Education

Federal File

March 03, 2004 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

By Invitation Only

The Department of Education wants to know when every member of Congress plans to hold a town hall meeting.

The response from Democrats: You’re not invited.

Last month, Robbi Dicken of the department’s congressional-affairs office sent an e-mail to every senator and House member asking for the dates, times, and locations of upcoming open meetings with constituents. The e-mail, which was first reported in The Hill, a newspaper that covers Congress, specified that the sessions could be on any topic, not just education issues.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told Democratic members that they shouldn’t respond to the request, saying that the department might send members of “Republican friendly groups” to the events.

“The Department of Education under President Bush has an extensive PR machine,” Daniel Weiss, the chief of staff for Rep. George Miller of California, the senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said in an interview.

The request continued to rile Mr. Weiss after the Education Department issued a response to a list of questions from Mr. Miller and other Democrats about how the department is implementing the No Child Left Behind Act. Mr. Weiss said the letter failed to address their concerns adequately.

“They gave us a nonspecific response, yet they want to show up at town hall meetings so they can be helpful,” he said.

The department made the request because education issues arise at all such forums and it wanted to get its message out about the No Child Left Behind Act, said Susan Aspey, a department spokeswoman.

“There is a lot of misinformation about [the law] and we wanted to provide materials to help set the record straight,” Ms. Aspey wrote in an e-mail.

Some Democrats suspect that the information request was part of a larger effort to build support for the Bush administration, including efforts by private lobbyists for the new Medicare prescription-drug law to compile such a list of town hall meetings.

Democrats fear that those lobbyists wanted to pack the meetings with Medicare supporters, said Jennifer Crider, a spokeswoman for Ms. Pelosi.

“We found it curious that the Department of Education, under the guise of providing education materials, wanted a list of meetings that were not on the topic of education,” Ms. Crider said.

—David J. Hoff


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP