DC Shuttle: Gridlocked Congress Considers Schools Reauthorization, Private Gift to Keep Head Start Going

Calls for action on ESEA. Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Monday called for action on a long-overdue overhaul of the elementary and secondary school law, contending that Congress has “failed to carry out its basic core responsibilities on education.” The last reauthorization of the law, known as No Child Left Behind, expired in 2007 and has been criticized by both parties as requiring unachievable standards. The House passed its reauthorization bill (H.R. 5) in July, and the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee approved its version (S. 1094) in June. Senate floor action appears unlikely this fall because there isn’t enough time on the calendar for the open amendment process that Democratic leaders envision. In the meantime, the administration has advanced its education priorities by providing waivers to states from some of the NCLB requirements in exchange for them carrying out other policy changes.

“Education Pays” report. On Monday, the College Board released a report entitled Education Pays 2013. The report finds that a college degree still provides a significant earnings bump to individuals, but the value has declined slightly in comparison with those who earn only a high school degree.

Donation more likely to reopen Head Start programs than House-passed measure. Two Texas philanthropists have offered to donate millions of dollars to allow shuttered Head Start programs to reopen. Laura and John Arnold, who have a philanthropic foundation in Houston, will extend up to $10 million in loans to the shuttered programs, something that current law enables without federal approval. The loans would be dispersed through the National Head Start Association. If Congress approves a bill to give the programs their full year’s worth of funding, the programs would repay the Arnolds at no interest. On Tuesday, the House passed stopgap measures by a vote of 248 to 168 extending appropriations for Head Start and local school aid. The Senate is expected to reject the measures and insist on the House passing a plan to reopen the entire government.

We publish the DC Shuttle each week featuring higher ed news from Washington collected by the New England Council, of which NEBHE is a member. This edition is drawn from the Higher Education Update in the Council’s Weekly Washington Report of Oct. 15, 2013.

Founded in 1925, the New England Council is a nonpartisan alliance of businesses, academic and health institutions, and public and private organizations throughout New England formed to promote economic growth and a high quality of life in the New England region. The Council’s mission is to identify and support federal public policies and articulate the voice of its membership regionally and nationally on important issues facing New England. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.


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