Your Education Road Map

Politics K-12®

ESSA. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states. Read more from this blog.


Here Are Possible Picks to Replace Al Franken on the Senate Ed. Committee

By Andrew Ujifusa — January 08, 2018 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Al Franken left the Senate at the start of this year, and that means there are only ten Democrats on the Senate education committee. Presumably the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, wants someone to step into Franken’s spot and reduce the GOP’s majority on the committee back to one vote. (There are twelve Republicans on the panel).

So who may replace him? We came up with a few possibilities, although there doesn’t seem to be a clear front-runner.

We also reached out to the four senators’ offices to see if they had been approached about or had any interest in joining the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. As you can probably tell from the name, the panel also deals with other big-ticket and controversial issues, in particular health care. So the senator who is ultimately chosen for the slot may not have a long record on K-12. And factors such as Democrats’ positions on other committees, among other things, will play also matter. We’ve listed the potential new members in alphabetical order.

• Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey: He’s probably the most prominent name on this list because of the chance he’ll run for president in 2020, and due to his work on Newark schools while serving as the city’s mayor.

Along with Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., Booker has previously introduced the Leveraging and Energizing America’s Apprenticeship Programs (LEAP) Act, intended to boost apprenticeship programs with federal tax credits. (Scott is already on the Senate education panel.) Booker has also authored a bill to fund elementary and secondary schools that are open year-round.

Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware: Coons has written several education-related bills in recent years. Late last year, for example, he introduced the Access, Success, and Persistence In Reshaping Education (ASPIRE) Act with Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. The bill is designed to help more low-income students get into and finish college.

In 2017 Coons—along with Sen. Angus King, I-Me., and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio—also introduced legislation to provide tax relief specifically to parents of children with disabilities. And he’s worked with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., to back the creation of a pilot program for college savings accounts that would serve low-income students.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland: Back when Van Hollen was in the House, he served on the House education committee, so he’s got the relevant congressional experience when it comes to committee assignments. Elected in 2014, Van Hollen has supported the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act, which aimed to create a grant program supporting the repair and renovation of schools. Van Hollen has also backed the creation of a database of scholarships focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia: Warner has backed legislation on a variety of education and education-related topics during his time in the Senate. These include educator preparation, financial counseling for higher education, higher education outcomes, and Pell Grants for those in early college high schools. Warner has also focused on workforce issues.

BONUS: Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota: She’s Franken’s replacement, she’s new, and she needs committee assignments. Swapping in the newly arrived Minnesota lawmaker for the departed one would be straightforward. Smith has a business background, although she’s also worked for Planned Parenthood. Since taking office, she has also highlighted pensions (which the Senate education committee also deals with) as a key priority for her. The same argument about being a rookie and needing committee assignments also holds true, of course, for Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama. He doesn’t have much of a background in education.

It’s also worth noting that Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire was able to get on the committee during her first term. That could indicate that no veteran senator was particularly keen to get on the committee when this Congress began in 2017.

Follow us on Twitter at @PoliticsK12.

Related Tags:

Commenting has been disabled on 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.


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.
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.
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.
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

Federal White House Launches Hispanic Education Initiative Led by Miguel Cardona
President Joe Biden said his administration intends to address the "systemic causes" of educational disparities faced by Hispanic students.
2 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona writes down and draws positive affirmations on poster board with students during his visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 in New York.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits students in New York City at P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school in the Bronx last month.
Brittainy Newman/AP
Federal Feds Add Florida to List of States Under Investigation Over Restrictions on Mask Mandates
The Education Department told the state Sept. 10 it will probe whether its mask rule is violating the rights of students with disabilities.
3 min read
Surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session on April 30, 2021, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session on April 30, 2021, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Federal How Biden Will Mandate Teacher Vaccines, Testing in Some States That Don't Require Them
President Joe Biden's COVID-19 plan will create new teacher vaccination and testing requirements in some states through worker safety rules.
4 min read
Nurse Sara Muela, left, administers the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to educator Rebecca Titus at a vaccination site setup for teachers and school staff at the Berks County Intermediate Unit in Reading, Pa., on March 15, 2021.
Nurse Sara Muela administers a COVID-19 vaccine to educator Rebecca Titus at a vaccination site for at the Berks County Intermediate Unit in Reading, Pa.
Matt Rourke/AP
Federal Biden Pushes Schools to Expand COVID-19 Testing, Get More Teachers Vaccinated
President Joe Biden set teacher vaccine requirements for federally operated schools as part of a new effort to drive down COVID's spread.
7 min read
President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room at the White House, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, in Washington. Biden is announcing sweeping new federal vaccine requirements affecting as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant.
President Joe Biden in a speech from the White House announces sweeping new federal vaccine requirements and other efforts in an renewed effort to stem the COVID-19 pandemic.
Andrew Harnik/AP