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House Education & Workforce Committee

Rep. Messer Introduces Bill to Protect Classrooms from ObamaCare’s Punitive Employer Mandate

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 05/30/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Member Luke Messer (R-IN) today introduced legislation in response to the challenges facing schools as the result of the president’s health care law. The Safeguarding Classrooms Hurt by ObamaCare’s Obligatory Levies (SCHOOL) Act (H.R. 4775) would exempt schools, colleges, and universities from the health care law’s employer mandate.

“At a time when school systems across the country are strapped for cash, it is not fair to pay for the president's health care law on the backs of our students and teachers,” said Rep. Messer. “If we really care about our kids and their education, we will do something about it. This bill will stop the harmful ObamaCare tax on school districts, save jobs, and ensure more money is left in school budgets for teacher development and student learning.” 

“Too often Washington forgets that federal policies unrelated to education can still burden our nation’s classrooms,” said Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN). “The president’s health care law is a prime example. We shouldn’t stand by while this fatally-flawed law makes it more difficult for teachers, administrators, and higher education leaders to provide students the quality education they deserve. I want to thank Representative Messer for his leadership on this important issue and urge all my colleagues to put students first by supporting the SCHOOL Act.”

Through news articles, hearing testimony, and feedback from education stakeholders, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce continues to learn about ObamaCare’s consequences for the nation’s education system. One witness at an oversight hearing noted the health care law will lead to $4.6 million in new costs for his K-12 school district potentially costing 58 teaching positions. Another testified the law may force his university to increase tuition by 20 percent. Helieanna from Minnesota told the committee through its #YourStory initiative that her teaching load was cut, meaning “a difference of thousands of dollars in my paycheck.”

To help protect administrators, teachers, and students from the negative effects of the health care law, the SCHOOL Act:

  • Exempts K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, and state and local educational agencies from the requirements of the health care law’s employer mandate.
     
  • Requires the secretary of education to evaluate the impact of the SCHOOL Act on schools’ ability to meet the educational needs of low-income students and institutions’ ability to maintain current academic opportunities.

To read a fact sheet, click here.

To read the text of H.R. 4775, click here.

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Safeguarding Classrooms Hurt by ObamaCare’s Obligatory Levies (SCHOOL) Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 05/30/2014 - 12:00am

 

THE PROBLEM:

Across the country, workers and job creators are struggling with the consequences of the president’s government-run health care scheme. Higher costs, fewer hours of work, and loss of existing health insurance continue to threaten the health and income security of working families. However, these problems plague not only America’s workplaces, but our classrooms as well. Last year the House Education and the Workforce Committee began examining the effects of the health care law on schools, colleges, and universities. Following an oversight hearing, the committee launched the #YourStory initiative, which provides the American people an opportunity to share personal anecdotes on this important issue. Through these efforts and recent press reports, the ObamaCare challenges facing America’s classrooms are coming to light:

  • Cities, counties, public schools and community colleges around the country have limited or reduced the work hours of part-time employees to avoid having to provide them with health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, state and local officials say. (New York Times, “Public Sector Cuts Part-Time Shifts to Bypass Insurance Law.”)
     
  • "I received word today that my teaching load for the rest of the school year will be cut by four credits – a difference of thousands of dollars in my paycheck.” (YourStory, Helieanna of Minnesota)
     
  • “Looking at these numbers in their entirety, the cost of the Affordable Care Act requirements to the Meriden Board of Education approaches $4.6M potentially costing us 58 teaching positions.” (Hearing of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, Testimony of Dr. Mark Benigni.)
      
  • "Who is really being punished is the students... The travesty is we are making a decision not to put the best teacher in front of the class.” (YourStory, Christopher of New York)  

THE SOLUTION:

To protect administrators, teachers, and students from the negative effects of the health care law, Representative Luke Messer (R-IN) introduced the Safeguarding Classrooms Hurt by ObamaCare’s Obligatory Levies (SCHOOL) Act. The legislation will help prevent the health care law from inflicting additional harm on the nation’s education system.

H.R. 4775 - THE SCHOOL ACT: 

  • Exempts K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, and state and local educational agencies from the requirements of the health care law’s employer mandate.
      
  • Requires the secretary of education to evaluate the impact of the SCHOOL Act on schools’ ability to meet the educational needs of low-income students and institutions’ ability to maintain current academic opportunities.

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Left Turn: Schools and Colleges Continue to Struggle under ObamaCare’s Burdensome Mandates

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 05/28/2014 - 12:00am

It’s no secret the president’s health care law is making life difficult for working families. Many of the ObamaCare problems plaguing the nation’s workplaces – lower wages, loss of existing coverage, higher costs – are emerging in classrooms across the country as well. To learn more about the consequences of the health care law on the nation’s schools and students, the Education and the Workforce Committee launched the #YourStory initiative. News reports and feedback received from education stakeholders reveal the tough challenges ObamaCare has levied on our education system:

Spokesman Brock Letchworth said the [Pitt County] school system had to cut the hours of substitute teachers because it could not afford to provide health care coverage to those teachers deemed full-time by the Affordable Care Act. “The cost for us to be able to provide health care to everyone would be just over $1 million...and that is the lowest cost to this school system.” – WNCN, North Carolina, Pitt Co. cuts substitute teacher hours due to Obamacare

The [Calvert] County school system is one of the best in the state. But now the school system has a problem – ObamaCare. The system faces a 13.7 percent increase in health care costs next year, as previously uncovered substitute teachers get covered and the overall policy costs are higher. – Harlan Daily, Maryland, Obamacare cost shockwave hits local schools

According to documents released by Minnesota’s Management and Budget (MMB) office, over the next three years, the total unfunded costs associated with Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliance will cost school districts statewide at least $207.96 million. “This is troubling news for our schools,” Torkelson said. “This is $200 million that school districts won’t be able to use to hire more teachers or improve their educational programs. This is an unneeded expense that does absolutely nothing for our students.” – Mankato Times, Minnesota, Minnesota Schools to lose more than $200 Million because of Obamacare

Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders have announced a Fiscal Year 2015 budget agreement that provides an $80 million increase for K-12 public education (with much of the hike lost to increased ObamaCare premiums)…increased health insurance costs under what is widely deemed ObamaCare will eat up approximately half ($40 million) of the projected “new money” for common schools. – City Sentinel, Oklahoma, “Global agreement” for OK state budget announced, with historic pension reforms included

I am the Superintendent of Schools…we will be forced to reduce the hours of our Educational Technicians. Reducing the ed tech hours, obviously reduces services to the children here. It is particularly harmful to students who require a one on one ed tech. – Quenten, Maine, Education and the Workforce Committee’s #YourStory Initiative

I am an adjunct professor…All in all I am going to lose about $14,000 a year in income…this situation has gone from bad to worse since the IRS created a formula to calculate our actual teaching hours plus prep time…I find it very strange and unfair that the IRS can dictate to my employer how many hours a week I am allowed to work. – Cris, Pennsylvania, Education and the Workforce Committee’s #YourStory Initiative

To share #YourStory, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/YourStory or e-mail the committee at TellYourStory@mail.house.gov.

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ICYMI: News Reports Highlight Bipartisan Job Training Agreement

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 05/22/2014 - 12:00am
On Wednesday House and Senate leaders announced a bipartisan deal to reform the nation’s workforce development system. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) will streamline a maze of duplicative programs and help hardworking Americans prepare for in-demand careers.

Read highlights from press reports on the compromise:

The compromise measure would eliminate 15 of 47 existing federal workforce training programs, provide a single metric for assessing performance across all of the remaining programs and allow state and local workforce development boards to tailor efforts to the needs in their areas. – Bloomberg BNA, Lawmakers Reach Bipartisan Deal to Fund, Streamline Numerous Job Training Programs

The agreement will eliminate some programs, overhaul Job Corps, make changes in the makeup of advisory boards and lay out specific appropriations…“We can’t expect a modern workforce to succeed with an outdated job training system… with too much bureaucracy, too many inefficiencies, and too little accountability,” House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline, R-Minn., said in a release.” – CQ Roll Call, Agreement on Long-Stalled Job Training Measure Unveiled
 
[The deal] is a victory for House Republican leaders, who have touted the bill for months as an area where they could find common ground with the Obama administration and Senate Democrats…“Dozens of other House passed pieces of legislation that help grow our economy and create jobs remain stalled in the Senate, and I hope this is a sign of more action to come,” [Majority Leader Eric Cantor] said. – The Hill, House and Senate strike rare election-year deal

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) will spearhead the bill in the House. Foxx, chairwoman of the House education committee’s workforce subcommittee, crafted the House’s original WIA rewrite…In recent months, Foxx has repeatedly criticized both President Barack Obama and the Senate for not doing enough to reform workforce programs. – Politico Pro, Senate, House join forces on workforce bill

“With Americans still asking ‘where are the jobs?,’ here’s another example of what we can accomplish when Senate Democrats work with us to address the people’s priorities,” House Speaker John Boehner says in [an] e-mailed statement. – Bloomberg, Bipartisan Jobs Training Bill to Be Considered in House, Senate

"For Americans having a hard time finding the skills they need for the jobs they want, we are about to deliver reforms that will help close that gap," House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) said in a statement Wednesday. "The legislation announced today cuts through the clutter of outdated programs and puts a greater focus on in-demand jobs." – Wall Street Journal, Lawmakers Reach Deal on Job Retraining

[The bill] consolidates and streamlines programs... requires all programs to show how they do on a common set of performance metrics… improves outreach to disconnected youths… boosts the preparation of young people with disabilities to work in competitive employment. – Christian Science Monitor, Workforce of the future? Bipartisan bill would overhaul job training

If the bill clears both chambers of Congress, as expected, it would be the first time that Congress had renewed the Workforce Investment Act, or WIA, which was enacted in 1998…The rare bipartisan agreement comes at a time when many Americans are growing frustrated with the sluggish economy and fluctuating job market.Chronicle of Higher Education, Key Job-Training Legislation Finally Heads Toward Passage

“The current workforce development system is broken,” said Chairman Kline. “I am pleased we are moving toward adopting comprehensive reform that provides employers, workers, and taxpayers the job training solutions they deserve.”

Click here to read more about the bipartisan compromise and learn how the bill will improve the nation’s workforce development system.

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Bipartisan, Bicameral Group Announces Deal to Improve American Workforce Development System

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 05/21/2014 - 12:00am
Today, a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers announced that they have reached a deal to improve the nation’s workforce development system through new legislation, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The bill, which will now be considered by both the House and Senate, modernizes and improves existing federal workforce development programs, helps workers attain skills for 21st century jobs, and fosters the modern workforce that evolving American businesses rely on to compete.;

WIOA represents a compromise between the SKILLS Act (H.R. 803), which passed the House of Representatives in March 2013 with bipartisan support, and the Workforce Investment Act of 2013 (S. 1356), which passed through the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee with a bipartisan vote of 18-3 in July of 2013.

A one-page summary of the legislation can be found here.

The statement of managers, including a section-by-section summary of the legislation, can be found here.

A summary of key improvements WIOA makes to current workforce development programs can be found here.

The text of the bipartisan, bicameral agreement can be found here.

“Access to training, education, and employment services opens doors to the middle class for workers and helps strengthen our economy. This bipartisan, bicameral reauthorization of theWorkforce Investment Act will help ensure that all workers—including those with disabilities—can access these opportunities. It will provide better coordination and value to our workforce development system,” said Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), who is chairman of the Senate HELP Committee. “This bill also makes groundbreaking changes that will raise prospects and expectations for Americans with disabilities, many of whom, under current law, are shunted to segregated, subminimum wage settings without ever receiving the opportunities and skills to succeed in competitive, integrated employment. It will stem the flow of young people into segregated employment by requiring that they be given experience in integrated settings, and require state Vocational Rehabilitation programs to work with individuals to develop an individual employment plan and support them in integrated work settings. This bill truly represents the spirit of bipartisan compromise and cooperation, and I applaud my colleagues on the HELP Committee and on the Education and the Workforce Committee for their perseverance and commitment to updating this critical law. I urge senators on both sides of the aisle to support this bill when it comes up for a vote.”

“We can’t expect a modern workforce to succeed with an outdated job training system. The current workforce development system is broken with too much bureaucracy, too many inefficiencies, and too little accountability,” said Representative John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “The problems we face have been apparent for a long time and I am pleased we are moving toward adopting comprehensive reform that provides employers, workers, and taxpayers the job training solutions they deserve. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to send this agreement to the president’s desk without delay.”

“Last year the federal government spent more than $145 million in Tennessee through a maze of programs trying to help Tennesseans find work,” said Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee. “Our legislation will simplify that maze, give governors and states more flexibility, and make it easier for Tennessee's 13 local workforce investment boards to match job seekers with the  skills employers are looking for.”

“By revising the original Workforce Investment Act to support access to real-world education in fields that are in demand locally, this legislation will help more workers across the country find a good job or train for a new career. Similar to the legislation proposed by Reps. Tierney and Hinojosa earlier this Congress, this bill also makes job training programs more efficient and effective by requiring that states developed unified plans to streamline and better coordinate these services,” said Representative George Miller (D-CA), senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee. "By strengthening the workforce development system, we will increase accountability, promote innovation, and make it easier to track results, while helping put more Americans back to work. I'm proud to have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to develop this proposal and hope to see it signed into law this year.”

“Every year, federal workforce investments help millions of Americans get back to work, go back to school, and increase their skills for an economy that’s changing faster than ever, but for too long, we’ve been relying on workforce development programs written in the 1990s,” said Senator Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate HELP Committee.  “This bipartisan, bicameral legislation will bring  federal worker programs into the 21st Century, give workers and students the resources they need to succeed, and foster a workforce that American businesses rely on to compete. It’s a prime example of what’s possible when Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate work together to write laws that help our economy grow. I want to thank Senator Isakson, who co-authored the Senate reauthorization bill with me, and all of my colleagues, for their hard work and commitment to moving this forward.”

“This is a good example of what Congress can achieve when we all come to the table and work towards a compromise that respects the opinions of legislators on both sides of the aisle,” said Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chair of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training. “This bill will eliminate fifteen duplicative programs, help the remaining programs better align worker education with available jobs and improve our ability to gauge how well the system is working as a whole. I want to thank my colleagues in the House for passing the SKILLS Act and my colleagues in the Senate for considering this long overdue re-authorization of the Workforce Investment Act.”

“Workforce investment and training is critically important to help grow the American economy still recovering from recession and to bridge the widening skills gap separating thousands of unemployed workers from good-paying jobs,” said Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), a senior member of the Senate HELP Committee. “I thank Senator Murray and my colleagues for their bipartisan efforts on this legislation, and I look forward to getting this measure passed so we can get Americans back to work and meet the modern demands of businesses employees in a global environment.”

This bipartisan agreement helps American workers get back on track by promoting sector strategies and career pathways that lead to good jobs and postsecondary education in our nation's public workforce training and adult education system,” said Representative Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX),  ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training. “This bill makes certain that the connection between adult education, postsecondary education and the workforce is strengthened. We as a nation must be inclusive in our workforce, and this bill provides better services to workers young and old, with disabilities, and to those populations that have significant barriers to employment. It also addresses the need to improve services for English language learners that will ease their participation into our nation's workforce. I am pleased to see the progress we are making in the Senate and in the House and look forward to having this bill signed into law.”

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ICYMI: Press Reports Highlight Hearing on Harmful Consequences of Unionizing Student Athletes

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 05/09/2014 - 12:00am

The House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing on Thursday to examine a recent National Labor Relations Board decision to define certain student athletes “employees.” As various news reports show, members discussed the challenges facing student athletes and expressed concerns that unionization would hurt students’ athletic and academic careers:

The debate over whether college athletes have the right to unionize moved to the U.S. Congress on Thursday, with witnesses that included Baylor University President Ken Starr voicing opposition… The hearing was prompted by a U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional director's decision in March that Northwestern University's scholarship football players could vote on joining a union. – Reuters, U.S. House hears witnesses opposed to union for college athletes

"Can the NCAA and institutions do more to protect students? Absolutely," Kline said. "Does that mean unionizing student athletes is the answer? Absolutely
not"…Would players go on strike, Kline asked, and how could that affect their academic pursuits? How could smaller colleges feasibly manage labor unions, and would institutions have to cut non-revenue sports or raise tuition to pay for labor relations? Could unionization therefore make it harder for some students to access a quality education? – Politico Pro, Kline on Athletes: ‘Forming a union is not the answer’

Rep. John P. Kline Jr., a Minnesota Republican and chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said the conditions faced by athletes should be dealt with "in a way that protects the athletic and academic integrity of higher education." "The recent NLRB decision…takes a fundamentally different approach that could make it harder for some students to access a quality education." – Chronicle of Higher Education, Battle Over College-Athlete Labor Unions Flares Up at House Hearing

In his prepared remarks, Chancellor Ken Starr called the recent NLRB decision “misguided.”…“Will debate students who are obliged not only to practice, but to conduct research, likewise be considered employees because performance is not part of a narrowly defined educational experience…Simply put, the [Northwestern] decision will result in uncertainty and instability across the higher education landscape.” – Dallas Morning News, Baylor president Ken Starr to testify about unions for college athletes

The top House Republican on labor issues says Northwestern University's football team would set a “dangerous precedent” by organizing the first union for students athletes…[Chairman John Kline stated,] “perhaps the union would seek to bargain over the number of games. If management and the union are at an impasse, would players go on strike? Would student athletes on strike attend class and have access to financial aid?” – The Hill, GOP: Northwestern football union 'dangerous precedent'

Starr said that negotiating improvements for athletes would create an unequal system in which the university would have to treat some of its athletes differently depending on whether they qualified to be part of the union. He said that it would also undermine the supportive relationship that the university’s coaches and faculty have with the players because it would require the university to discuss issues with union representatives, not necessarily the players themselves. – Inside Higher Ed, The Politics of Player Unions

Stanford athletics director Bernard Muir, told the committee that if his school's athletes were allowed to unionize, the school "might opt not to compete at the level we are competing in." And in an interview with USA TODAY Sports after the hearing, he was unequivocal: "If (Stanford's athletes) are deemed employees, we will opt for a different model." – USA Today, House panel grills college leaders on unionization

Patrick Eilers, a former safety in the National Football League for the Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins, and Chicago Bears, told the panel "the crux of the problem is that student-athletes should be students, first and foremost, as the description suggests. I'm concerned that calling student-athletes 'employees' will make the system more of a business than it already is…I was a student-athlete at Notre Dame. Period. I was not an employee of the university, nor did I want to be one." – Associated Press, Witnesses Oppose NLRB Ruling on College Athletes

[Attorney, Bradford Livingston] told the committee that …the NLRA “is simply not an appropriate vehicle” for resolving disputes between universities and scholarship athletes…The lawyer also observed that in Northwestern, “walk-on” players without football scholarships were not allowed to vote on union representation. Other universities may face union organizing drives aimed at some, but not all, of their players, he said. – Bloomberg BNA, Witnesses Cite Concern for College Athletes But Disagree About Collective Bargaining

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Kline, Miller Praise Passage of Charter School Bill

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 05/09/2014 - 12:00am

The House of Representatives today approved the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act (H.R. 10) with strong bipartisan support in a vote of 360 to 45. Introduced by House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Senior Democratic Member George Miller (D-CA), the legislation supports state efforts to start, expand, and replicate high-performing charter schools.

“As we work to help more students access a quality education, we must support charter schools as a valuable alternative to failing public schools,” Chairman Kline said. “The Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act is a bipartisan initiative that will encourage the growth of charter schools and provide a new avenue of hope for children and their families. I want to thank my friend and colleague, Mr. Miller, for working with me to craft this legislation and helping us garner such overwhelming support both on the House floor and in the education community. But our work to provide more education options for students isn’t done yet. I encourage my Senate colleagues to join us in supporting the charter school movement by bringing this important proposal up for a vote without delay.”

“This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that every child in every neighborhood has access to a high-quality public education,” said Rep. Miller. “By harnessing the innovations coming out of public charter schools, replicating their successes, and sharing those lessons with non-charter schools, we can help make the promise of a quality public school for every child a reality. In particular, this legislation supports students who are traditionally underserved by charter schools, including those with disabilities and English-language learners, so that they can enjoy the same opportunities to succeed.”  

To learn more about the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act, click here.

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Kline Statement: Hearing on “Big Labor on College Campuses: Examining the Consequences of Unionizing Student Athletes”

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 05/09/2014 - 12:00am

College sports have become a favored pastime for millions of Americans. Whether filling out a tournament bracket, tailgating on a Saturday afternoon, or simply cheering on an alma mater, for many fans, college sports is a way to spend time with loved ones and stay connected with old friends.

Where fans are known for their loyalty, student athletes are renowned for their passion and talent and look to leverage their athletic ability in pursuit of different dreams. For some, competing at the collegiate level is a step toward a career in professional sports. For others – in fact, for most student athletes – playing a college sport is a ticket to an education they simply couldn’t access without an athletic scholarship.

Regardless of why student athletes play, their dreams can be turned upside down by a sports-related injury. When that happens, institutions must step up and provide the health care and academic support the student needs. Most institutions are doing just that and standing by their athletes for the long-haul, but some are not. No student athlete injured while representing their school on the field should be left behind because of the misplaced priorities of a college or university.

Can the NCAA and institutions do more to protect students? Absolutely. They could start by giving students a greater role in shaping policies that govern college athletics. They could also work to help ensure a sports injury doesn’t end a student’s academic career and find a responsible solution that will deliver the health care injured players may need. While promoting change is often difficult, student athletes deserve a determined effort to address these concerns.

Does that mean unionizing student athletes is the answer? Absolutely not. When he signed the National Labor Relations Act, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared, “A better relationship between labor and management is the high purpose of this Act.” It’s hard to imagine President Roosevelt thought the law would one day apply to the relationship between student athletes and academic institutions, yet that is precisely where we are.

A regional director of the National Labor Relations Board recently ruled football players at Northwestern University are “employees” of the school for the purpose of collective bargaining. The ballots cast in an April 25th election have been impounded pending review by the full board. Given the track record of the Obama NLRB, I suspect the board will rubber stamp the regional director’s decision, setting a dangerous precedent for colleges and universities nationwide. In the meantime, schools, athletic organizations, students, and the public are searching for answers to countless questions stemming from this unprecedented ruling.

For example, what issues would a union representing college athletes raise at the bargaining table? Would a union negotiate over the number and length of practices? Perhaps the union would seek to bargain over the number of games. If management and the union are at an impasse, would players go on strike? Would student athletes on strike attend class and have access to financial aid?

How would student athletes provide financial support to the union? Would dues be deducted from scholarships before being disbursed to students? Or are students expected to pay out of pocket? We know many student athletes struggle financially. How will they shoulder the cost of joining a union?

Speaking of costs, where will smaller colleges and universities find the resources to manage labor relations with student athletes? A lot of institutions operate on thin margins and college costs are soaring. Are these schools ready to make some difficult decisions, such as cutting support to other athletic programs like lacrosse and field hockey, or even raising tuition?

And finally, how will other NLRB policies affect our higher education system? Are college campuses prepared for micro-unions and ambush elections? Are administrators equipped to bargain with competing unions representing different athletic programs? Will students be able to make an informed decision about joining a union in as few as 10 days, while attending class and going to practice?

These are tough questions that should be discussed before students and administrators are forced to confront a radical departure from long-standing policies. We share the concerns of players that progress is too slow, but forming a union is not the answer; treating student athletes as something they are not is not the answer.

The challenges facing student athletes should be addressed in a way that protects the athletic and academic integrity of higher education. The recent NLRB decision takes a fundamentally different approach that could make it harder for some students to access a quality education. I strongly urge the Obama board to change course and encourage key stakeholders to get to work.

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VIDEO RELEASE: Kline Speaks in Support of Bipartisan Charter School Bill

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 05/08/2014 - 7:54pm

The House of Representatives is currently debating the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act (H.R. 10), legislation to bolster local charter school initiatives, aid the expansion and replication of successful charter school models, and improve charter school accessibility for some of the country’s most disadvantaged students.

Moments ago, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) highlighted the benefits of charter schools, and described how H.R. 10 will help more students and their families access these innovative institutions.

 

Charter schools have a proven track record of success, encouraging higher academic achievement in even the most troubled school districts. I recently had the opportunity to visit two impressive charter schools in my home state of Minnesota. At both of the schools, without exception, students were engaged, excited, and eager to learn.

I know firsthand this is not a trend unique to charter schools in Minnesota. In fact, each time I visit quality charter schools, whether here in Washington, D.C. or in Prior Lake, Minnesota or even Harlem, New York, I’ve been amazed by the creative curriculum, the outstanding educators, and the students’ incredible progress.

Clearly, these institutions are a valuable part of a successful education system. However, the federal Charter School Program is in need of key reforms to enhance access and ensure continued educational quality. That’s why I partnered with my colleague, the Senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, to advance the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act.

To read Chairman Kline’s full remarks, click here. To learn more about the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act, visit edworkforce.house.gov/qualitycharters/

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House Approves Legislation to Enhance Education Research

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 05/08/2014 - 7:00pm

The House of Representatives today approved the Strengthening Education through Research Act (H.R. 4366) with bipartisan support. Introduced by Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Ranking Member Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), the bill reauthorizes the Education Sciences Reform Act and makes it easier for states and school districts to access timely information on successful education practices. 

“Teachers and school leaders need quality research to identify the best ways to raise student achievement, and families need information as they evaluate their education options,” said Rep. Rokita. “The Strengthening Education through Research Act will improve education research and help ensure more schools and students can benefit from effective educational practices. The legislation will also take steps to protect taxpayers by streamlining the education research system and improving program accountability. I am pleased this responsible bill received bipartisan support in the House and look forward to its consideration in the Senate.”

As approved by the House, the Strengthening Education through Research Act will:

  • Enhance the relevancy of education research at the state and local levels, helping teachers, students, parents, and policymakers access more useful information about successful education practices.
  • Streamline the federal education research system, preventing overlap, redundancy, and duplication of research efforts.
  • Improve accountability and protect the taxpayers’ investment by requiring regular evaluations of research and education programs.
  • Strengthen privacy provisions to ensure personally identifiable information collected by IES is secure and protected.
  • Maintain the autonomy of IES, the National Assessment Governing Board, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (also known as the Nation’s Report Card) to shield these entities from political influence and bias.

To learn more about the Strengthening Education through Research Act, click here.

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Rokita Statement: H.R. 4366, Strengthening Education through Research Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 05/08/2014 - 12:00am

More than a decade ago, Congress approved the Education Sciences Reform Act, legislation that established the Institute of Education Sciences to gather information on education progress, conduct research on education practices in schools, and evaluate the effectiveness of federal education programs and initiatives.

Like many of my colleagues, I believe the federal government’s role in education needs to be significantly reduced.  That is why we passed the Student Success Act last summer, comprehensive education reform legislation that will shrink the federal footprint in the classroom and return control to the parents, teachers, and community leaders who know our children best. 

While we continue to await Senate action on the Student Success Act, we have additional opportunities to act on commonsense proposals that will make the federal role in education more effective and efficient. The research produced by the Institute sheds critical light on how taxpayer dollars are being used in our education system, and can provide important information on what is and is not working in our schools.

The Strengthening Education through Research Act will improve education research, protect taxpayers by enhancing program accountability, and help ensure more schools and students can benefit from effective education practices.

This law provides information that helps states and school districts identify successful education practices, and allows taxpayers and congressional leaders to monitor the federal investment in education. However, the Education Sciences Reform Act is overdue for reform, with several weaknesses in the law that must be addressed.

For example, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office, the Institute does not always properly evaluate the effectiveness of its programs and research arms. This could lead to unnecessary costs and redundancies, something we must be particularly wary of in these times of fiscal restraint. Additionally, although the Institute has dramatically improved the quality of education research in recent years, there is often a significant delay in disseminating key data and findings to education leaders nationwide.

The Supporting Education through Research Act will address these weaknesses and help school leaders access more timely, relevant, and useful information on the most effective educational practices.

First, H.R. 4366 will enhance the relevancy of education research, ensuring teachers, students, parents, and policymakers can access more useful information about successful education practices.

Second, the legislation will take steps to streamline the education research system and reduce overlap and duplicative research efforts.  The bill will also require the Institute to regularly evaluate its research and review the efficacy of federal education programs, ensuring taxpayer resources are being put to good use.

Finally, H.R. 4366 will ensure the Institute and the National Assessment Governing Board, which administers the Nation’s Report Card, remain autonomous entities that are free from political influence and bias.

Not only does this legislation help teachers, school leaders, and state and local governments, it also helps families.  Families, particularly military families, can change school districts several times during their child’s education. Our experience with the free market tells us informed consumers are better consumers. As consumers of education, families deserve the best information possible in making decisions regarding their child’s education.

The Strengthening Education through Research Act will improve education research, protect taxpayers by enhancing program accountability, and help ensure more schools and students can benefit from effective education practices. I urge my colleagues to support the Strengthening Education through Research Act.

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Kline Statement: H.R. 10, the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 05/08/2014 - 12:00am

For many children and their parents, charter schools are a beacon of hope for a better education – and a better life.  The schools are extraordinarily in demand; waitlists for charter schools have grown steadily in recent years, with more than one million students’ names on waitlists for the 2013-2014 school year.

Charter schools have a proven track record of success, encouraging higher academic achievement in even the most troubled school districts. I recently had the opportunity to visit two impressive charter schools in my home state of Minnesota. At both of the schools, without exception, students were engaged, excited, and eager to learn.

I know firsthand this is not a trend unique to charter schools in Minnesota. In fact, each time I visit quality charter schools, whether here in Washington, D.C. or in Prior Lake, Minnesota or even Harlem, New York, I’ve been amazed by the creative curriculum, the outstanding educators, and the students’ incredible progress.

Clearly, these institutions are a valuable part of a successful education system. However, the federal Charter School Program is in need of key reforms to enhance access and ensure continued educational quality. That’s why I partnered with my colleague, the Senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, to advance the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act.

This bipartisan legislation will encourage more states and families to embrace charter schools – while also including several provisions to urge these schools to reach out to special populations, including at-risk students, children with disabilities, and English learners.

The bill will streamline the federal charter school program, while ensuring these institutions remain accountable to families and taxpayers. The bill also expands the allowable use of federal resources to support not just new charter schools, as under current law, but also the replication and expansion of successful charter schools.

Additionally, H.R. 10 will direct charter schools to share best practices with traditional public schools, helping to ensure school leaders are working together to implement successful education practices throughout the community.

Madam/ Mister Speaker, as we work to help more students access a quality education, we must support charter schools as a valuable alternative to failing public schools, and work together to encourage their growth. The Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act is a commonsense proposal that will improve educational opportunities for students across the board and provide families with additional school choice options.

I am very pleased members of the Education and the Workforce Committee have put their differences aside and worked through a very bipartisan process to develop an exceptional piece of legislation. I’d like to thank members and staff for these efforts, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join with us in supporting legislation that can have a hugely positive effect on children nationwide.

Committee Examines Troubling Consequences of Unionizing Student Athletes

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 05/08/2014 - 12:00am

The House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), today held a hearing entitled, “Big Labor on College Campuses: Examining the Consequences of Unionizing Student Athletes.” During the hearing, members listened as a higher education administrator, athletic director, and former student athlete discussed the negative effects of a recent National Labor Relations Board decision allowing the unionization of student athletes.

“Today’s witnesses confirmed classifying student athletes as school ‘employees’ will hurt their athletic and academic careers,” said Chairman Kline. “There is no question the legitimate concerns of student athletes must be addressed, but doing so at the collective bargaining table will do more harm than good. It’s encouraging to hear from institutions with policies in place that put student athletes first, such as providing continued academic support to students who sustain a sports injury. We need all institutions to step up and follow suit. Instead of treating student athletes as something they are not, let’s help ensure the real challenges they face are resolved.”

To learn more about today’s hearing, read witness testimony, or to watch an archived webcast, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

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