To get discussion going, those who chair congressional committees occasionally arrange meetings simply to flesh out vague ideas.
Last week, Sen. James M. Jeffords, the Vermont Republican who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, did just that, with a hearing titled “Education Readiness.”
As if the title weren’t broad enough, Mr. Jeffords’ staff noted in a press release that “the hearing is not intended to focus on any particular piece of legislation; rather, it is intended to promote creative ideas on how the federal budget should be better aligned with national priorities.”
The diverse witness list for the Sept. 14 hearing included Ben Cohen, the co-founder of the company that makes Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, a military adviser, an official with America Online Inc., and Bob Chase, the president of the National Education Association.
The panelists offered a laundry list of existing programs, including special education and vocational training, that they feel need more federal funding.
The Washington-based Committee for Education Funding honored several members of Congress and the founder of New American Schools last week for their contributions to education.
The occasion was the CEF’s 30th anniversary awards ceremony, held Sept. 13 and attended by a Who’s Who of players in Washington’s education policy world.
Award recipients included David T. Kearns, the founder of New American Schools--a nonprofit designer of whole-school reform models--and the former deputy secretary of education in the Bush administration; Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; Rep. David R. Obey of Wisconsin, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee; and Rep. John Edward Porter, R-Ill., who chairs the appropriations subcommittee that oversees education spending.
--Joetta L. Sack & Erik W. Robelen