Federal Flash: How Will the Election Results Affect Education?


Welcome back to Federal Flash. I’m Phillip Lovell and I’m joined by Monica
Almond. As you may have guessed, the top story for
today’s Federal Flash is the 2018 midterm election. Big changes will take place in the House education
committee when the next session of Congress begins in January. First, the Committee will have a new chairman
– and that new chairman, Representative Bobby Scott, could hardly be more different than
the current Chair, Virginia Foxx. Mrs. Foxx does not believe there should be
a federal role in education. She is quick to remind people that QUOTE:
there are 4,543 words in the Constitution. Not one of them is the word “education,” or
a synonym for it.” Mr. Scott sees things very differently. To him, the federal government has a very
important role to play in education policy from a civil rights perspective. As one of the authors of the recently passed
Every Student Succeeds Act, his top priority was making sure the law included protections
and support for historically underserved students. In Congress, each committee – and the committee
chair, in particular – really controls which pieces of legislation will get considered,
and what the legislation will say. So, the importance of having a new committee
chairman can hardly be overstated. That’s right, Monica. Of course, the members of the Committee are
influential in the policy making process as well, and the members of the House education
committee are going to change considerably. First – the ratio of Republicans to Democrats
will shift completely. The party in control of the House always chairs
the committee and gets a majority of the committee seats. Today, there are 22 Republicans and only 18
Democrats. Those numbers will shift in January, and Democrats
will have the majority of the Committee seats. Who sits in those seats is also going to change. On the Republican side, six out of the 22
members will not be returning to the House next January. This includes Representative Jason Lewis who
is a supporter of dual enrollment as well as Representative Lou Barletta who is a champion
for after-school programs. On the Democratic side, none of the members
lost their elections, but they may not all stay on the Committee. Instead, their seats may be filled by new
House Democrats as the education committee is often where freshman members get placed. We’ll know soon as committee rosters are developed
over the next several weeks. In the Senate, the outlook for Democrats is
very different because Republicans not only maintained control of that chamber, the’ll
likely expanded their ranks. That means that the ratio between Republicans
and Democrats may change slightly to give even greater weight to the majority party. Currently, there are 12 Republicans and 11
Democrats on the Committee. In January, that could change – either Republicans
could be added, or the number of Democrats could be reduced. The big question, of course is, what will
the new Congress mean for policy? What’s going to change? The biggest change is the level of oversight
given to policies coming from the Trump Administration. Secretary DeVos has largely been protected
from on-the-record questioning by her Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill. That will change under Chairman Bobby Scott,
who told the Secretary, rather bluntly, in a recent hearing, QUOTE: “Your Department
is moving us further away from the promise of educational equity contained within Brown
v. Board.” That’s right, Monica. Congressional Democrats are chomping at the
bit to scrutinize a nearly endless array of concerning polices coming from the Department
of Education: suspending protections for student loan borrowers, rolling back Title IX protections
against campus-based sexual assault, rolling back guidelines on special education, rescinding
protections for transgender students, approving ESSA plans that violate the law’s requirements
in support of historically underserved students…the list goes on. In addition to increased oversight, we could
also see movement on the Higher Education Act. It’s a heavy lift, but pretty likely that
the House can pass a partisan bill because they have the votes to do so. Whether it has a real chance of reaching the
President’s desk is another story altogether. To find out what will be taking place under
the new committee leadership and when, keep your eyes here on Federal Flash. For an alert when the next episode is available,
email [email protected] Thanks for watching.

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