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U.S. House Races to Watch for Edu-ramifications

By Alyson Klein — October 12, 2010 2 min read
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Come election night, most folks watching federal races will be paying attention to the big questions (Does the House of Representatives flip to Republican control? What about the Senate?)

But there are some individual races that could also matter. A handful of Democrats on the House Education and Labor Committee are on the endangered list, or at least may have a tough fight ahead of them.

While education may not be a signature issue in these members’ races, their losses could alter the makeup of the panel, no matter who retains control of Congress. That could impact the issues they care about or have championed. (The folks who might defeat them might not land a spot on the committee once they come to Congress, but I’ve included their views here anyway, to give you a flavor of what GOP candidates in districts that care about K-12 schools are saying on the stump.)

The folks to watch:

*Rep. Tim Bishop of New York: This former college president is very active on higher education issues. His opponent, businessman Randy Altshuler, wants to promote school choice through charters, tax-credits to attend private or parochial school, and home schooling.

*Rep. Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania: Altmire’s background is in health policy. On his congressional web site he touts his support for aid to schools under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which provided $100 billion for education. His opponent, attorney Keith Rothfus, attacks the stimulus in his campaign materials as ineffective.

*Rep. Phil Hare of Illinois: Hare looks out for rural schools and has introduced legislation encouraging schools to adopt positive behavior supports to help with discipline issues. He’s running against Bobby Schilling, who owns a pizza restaurant and supports legislation allowing states to opt out of the No Child Left Behind Act’s accountability requirements.

*Rep. Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire: Shea-Porter also touts her support for the recovery act on her congressional site, and expresses reservations about the NCLB law, which she calls “a large unfunded mandate [with] some unreasonable requirements.” Her opponent, Frank Guinta, wants to rein in federal spending.

*Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada: A former political science professor, Titus introduced legislation to raise the amount of money teachers can deduct from their taxes for classroom-related out-of-pocket expenses. She’s facing opposition from Joe Heck, a physician who advocates for more local control in K-12 education.

And a few teachers in the House are also in for tough fights, including Rep. Larry Kissell of North Carolina, Harry Mitchell of Arizona, and Tim Walz of Minnesota. The National Education Association ran some of its first ads of the election season on behalf of Kissell and Mitchell.

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