Legislative Update, a weekly publication of ASCA, provides an executive summary of public policy issues affecting American education. This publication contains links to Internet sites for the convenience of World Wide Web users. ASCA is not responsible for the availability or content of these external sites, nor does ASCA endorse, warrant or guarantee the information, services, or products described or offered at these other Internet sites.
The floor schedule in both Houses of the Congress was deceptively slow this week. The action was taking place behind the scenes. In the Senate, the plan had been a debate on Iraq. The form was to be a resolution indicating support for the troops, but also skepticism about the troop surge to a call for immediate withdrawal. No middle ground could be found so the debate limped on. It did provide, however, an example of how hard it is for the Democrats and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to move legislation or take any other action without the cooperation of their Republican colleagues. Their majority is slim, and the absence of Senator Tim Johnson (D-ND) reduces it even further. Turning to the Committee rooms, it was hard to find a hearing that did not focus on oversight of the war, and those were acrimonious as well. The major story coming out of the House was a fight about the size of the military airplane that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will have access to for transport to and from California.
On February 5th, the Administration released its $3 trillion FY 2008 proposed budget. According to the White House, the proposal “reduces the deficit each year and reaches a balanced budget within five years.” The broad budget discusses keeping the economy strong, spending taxpayer dollars wisely, and combating terrorism and protecting the homeland. The budget elicited a strongly critical reaction on Capitol Hill from Democrats.
While the House of Representatives held numerous hearings on the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) during the 109th Congress, Thursday’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee roundtable discussion titled “NCLB Reauthorization: Strategies that Promote School Improvement” marked the first official Senate action. “Roundtable discussions” are intended to be more informal than a hearing, with panelists and Senators sitting around a large square table together and engaging in more of a dialogue than strictly timed questions and responses.
Garnering national attention this week, the College Board released the third annual “Advanced Placement Report to the Nation” at an event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. The significant press coverage generated by the release of the report signals just how much support and acceptance Advanced Placement (AP) courses enjoy across the country. The Administration’s support is also evident in its budget request, which includes a $90 million increase for AP in FY 2008.
EDUCATION SECTOR RELEASES REPORT ON USE OF SCHOOL TIME: On Wednesday, Education Sector held a forum entitled “Rethinking the Way Schools Use Time.” The forum included Andrew Rotherham, Co-director, Education Sector; Dan Katzir, Managing Director, The Broad Foundation; Kevin Carey, Research and Policy Manager, Education Sector; Elena Silva, Senior Policy Analyst, Education Sector; An-Me Chung, Program Officer, C.S. Mott Foundation; Toks Fashola, Adjunct Research Scientist, Johns Hopkins University; Chris Gabrieli, Co-chair, Massachusetts 2020; and Rick Larios, Senior Vice President, Edison Schools. Many schools and educators are turning their attention to the amount of time students spend in school as a way to raise student achievement and to meet the demands of No Child Left Behind. States and school districts around the country are considering various proposals for extending the school day and year, ranging from lengthening the school day by several hours to extending the school year by days, weeks or months. The idea and cost of extending school time make this type of reform a tough sell. Additional days and hours are expensive, and changing the school schedule affects not only students and teachers, but parents, employers and a wide range of industries that are dependent on the traditional school day and year. Education Sector released a report that examines both the educational and political scope of school time reform. It discusses the impact of various time reforms on the life of schools, and makes recommendations for policymakers about how to best leverage time in and out of school to improve student achievement. View the report.