School & District Management

Senate Republicans Put Education on Their Agenda

February 01, 2005 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The new chairman of the Senate education committee made clear last week that he aims to catch up on an array of overdue bills to reauthorize education laws, from Head Start to vocational education to the Higher Education Act, as well as focus new attention on issues such as reducing high school dropout rates.

Sen. Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming and other Republican leaders in the chamber gathered Jan. 24 to announce their top 10 legislative priorities for 2005, with a catchall education bill ranking ninth in the lineup, at least by its bill number.

See Also

The same day, leading Senate Democrats outlined their own top issues, proposing to boost federal education aid, improve implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, and offer tuition incentives for college students who teach in high-need fields, including mathematics, science, and special education.

Sen. Enzi, the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, said the goal of S 9, the proposed Lifelong Education Opportunities Act of 2005, would be to address education and training needs from early childhood through adulthood, and to help ensure that all Americans are skilled for the workforce.

“We’ve tried to put together a package here that will take care of it, from the beginning to the end,” Mr. Enzi said at the press conference, “with flexibility and accountability that will build on what we did with No Child Left Behind and fill in those reauthorization pieces that we need to do at other levels.”

The legislation is meant to encapsulate a range of education issues that federal lawmakers are expected to tackle separately in the coming year. The drafting of the broader bill was not final as of late last week.

At a competing press conference, Democrats unveiled their own set of 10 priority bills, including the proposed Quality Education for All Act.

“In the 109th Congress, Senate Democrats are committed to restoring the promise of America by pursuing an agenda that honors the values behind it: security, opportunity, and responsibility,” said Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the chamber’s new minority leader.

But with President Bush back for another four years and larger Republican majorities in the House and the Senate, the GOP will clearly be in the political driver’s seat this year.

Forums on ‘No Child’ Law

The three-year-old No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush’s No. 1 priority for education in his first term, appears certain to be the focus of considerable attention this year. Asked about the law at the GOP event, Sen. Enzi said his panel would gather information about its implementation—a source of continuing friction between the Department of Education and the states.

He noted that Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman of the subcommittee that oversees education and early childhood matters and a former secretary of education, would take the lead on seeking that information.

“Senator Alexander is talking about having hearings on No Child Left Behind, some forums maybe even around the United States, to make sure that we’re collecting the information and seeing what can be done administratively as well as legislatively,” Sen. Enzi said.

Sen. Enzi and other Republicans made no explicit mention of President Bush’s agenda for high schools, which Mr. Bush promoted on the campaign trail last year and outlined in more detail last month. The president wants to require more statewide testing of high schoolers and is proposing new supports for students at that level of education. (“Bush Promotes Plan for High School Tests,” Jan. 19, 2005.)

A Moral Commitment?

Mr. Enzi made only a vague reference to the issue at the GOP press conference by saying he wanted to reduce the number of dropouts.

On the Senate floor the same day, he said: “High school dropouts are the most at-risk school population in the workforce. We must look at federal efforts to reform high schools to make sure we are keeping students in school.”

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, the education committee’s ranking Democrat, outlined his party’s priorities in a Jan. 24 floor speech.

“We must keep the promise to leave no child behind,” he said. “For Democrats, this is not just a slogan. For us, it’s a moral commitment.” He said Democrats would fight to “fully fund” the No Child Left Behind law.

He added: “Republicans are for tax breaks for the wealthy few. Democrats are for the common good—for stronger schools and better health care for everyone.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the February 02, 2005 edition of Education Week as Senate Republicans Put Education on Their Agenda

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
Mathematics Webinar
Addressing Unfinished Learning in Math: Providing Tutoring at Scale
Most states as well as the federal government have landed on tutoring as a key strategy to address unfinished learning from the pandemic. Take math, for example. Studies have found that students lost more ground
Content provided by Yup Math Tutoring
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

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

School & District Management Q&A School Libraries and Controversial Books: Tips From the Front Lines
A top school librarian explains how districts can prepare for possible challenges to student reading materials and build trust with parents.
6 min read
Image of library shelves of books.
mikdam/iStock/Getty
School & District Management Opinion ‘This Is Not What We Signed Up For’: A Principal’s Plea for More Support
School leaders are playing the role of health-care experts, social workers, mask enforcers, and more. It’s taking a serious toll.
Kristen St. Germain
3 min read
Illustration of a professional woman walking a tightrope.
Laura Baker/Education Week and uzenzen/iStock/Getty
School & District Management Letter to the Editor Educators Must Look to History When They Advocate for Changes
Educators and policymakers must be aware of the history of ideas when making changes in education, says this letter to the editor.
1 min read
Illustration of an open laptop receiving an email.
iStock/Getty
School & District Management Letter to the Editor Reconsidering Causes of Principal Burnout
The state and federal governments are asking us to implement policies that often go against our beliefs, says this letter to the editor.
1 min read
Illustration of an open laptop receiving an email.
iStock/Getty