When Sen. John McCain ran for president last year, education advocates noted that he hadn’t shown much interest in their issues during his quarter-century in Congress.
That may change now that the Arizona Republican has joined the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and is giving other signals of involvement.
The day before President Barack Obama’s inauguration last week, Sen. McCain appeared at a rally sponsored by the Education Equality Project, an accountability effort led by New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and the Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist.
Ironically, Sen. McCain joined the education panel shortly after President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton left it as they moved to the executive branch.
Mr. McCain is the only new Republican on the panel. He replaced a gop colleague, Wayne Allard of Colorado, who retired from the Senate.
The Democrats added three new members to the panel: Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania and new Sens. Kay R. Hagan of North Carolina and Jeff Merkley of Oregon. Democrats still have one spot to fill on the committee. It wasn’t clear whether the panel might be saving the spot for Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., the former Denver schools superintendent who was sworn in last week to replace Ken Salazar, who left to become secretary of the interior.
The House Education and Labor Committee also has some new faces.
Joining the panel on the Democratic side are Reps. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, Jared Polis of Colorado, Dina Titus of Nevada, and Paul Tonko of New York, as well as Delegates Pedro Pierluisi of Puerto Rico and Gregorio Sablan from the Northern Mariana Islands.
Rep. Polis, who won a contested primary, earned kudos from Democrats for Education Reform, a New York City-based political action committee. He served on Colorado’s state board of education.
Republicans joining the panel are Reps. S. Brett Guthrie of Kentucky, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Tom McClintock of California, Duncan D. Hunter of California, and Phil Roe of Tennessee.
A version of this article appeared in the January 28, 2009 edition of Education Week