Select Group Wields Gavel on State Education Policy
Legislative committees invest broad authority in panels’ top leadership.
They’re insurance salesmen, farmers, motivational speakers, and retired teachers. Most are white men who have served in their state legislatures for an average of 10 years. And, while they’re far less known to the public, these policymakers can be more powerful in education than their state schools superintendents or even their governors.
As legislative sessions across the country kick into high gear, the chairmen and chairwomen of state education committees are facing increasing calls to pass laws that better prepare students to compete in a global economy. At the same time, they must navigate tricky issues that hit close to home, such as school consolidation and methods of K-12 funding.
Though legislative leaders in some states have yet to make final their committee picks, an early look at the class of 2007 offers a varied picture when it comes to those heading the education panels. Though most are white and male, at least 25 out of the approximately 100 committee leaders are women, and at least 11 committees will be led by members of racial or ethnic minorities. About half the education committee chiefs have some education background, having served as teachers, school-to-work...
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