Hearing Summaries (7-29-02)

Hearing on Implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act
House Education and the Workforce Committee

July 24, 2002

Members Present
John A. Boehner (R-OH), Chairman George Miller (D-CA), Ranking Member
Howard McKeon (R-CA) Dale E. Kildee (D-MI)
Michael Castle (R-DE) Major R. Owens (D-NY)
Sam Johnson (R-TX) Patsy T. Mink (D-HI)
Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) Robert E. Andrews (D-NJ)
Johnny Isakson (R-GA) Bobby Scott (D-VA)
Judy Biggert (R-IL) Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)
Patrick J. Tiberi (R-OH) John F. Tierney (D-MA)
Joe Wilson (R-SC) Loretta L. Sanchez (D-CA)
Harold E. Ford (D-TN)
David Wu (D-OR)
Rush Holt (D-NJ)

Hearing Summary
On July 24th the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing on the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act (HR 1).  While two panels of witnesses were present to testify, the focus was overwhelmingly on the first panel that contained Dr. Eugene Hickok, US Under Secretary of Education.  All members and witnesses recognized the great potential of the No Child Left Behind Act, however, there were several concerns related to the implementation of the act.  Concerns regarding school accountability and school choice overshadowed all other issues discussed.  Reps. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) and Rush Holt (D-NJ) both brought up the current lack in science and math education.  Ehlers stated that US students test lower in math and science than in any other subject.  This low level of performance is a major concern as jobs of the future will require knowledge of science more than ever before.  He discussed the increasing number of work visas that have been given to foreign people to fill jobs in the math and science fields as well as the increasingly common phenomenon of contracting engineering and computer science jobs to firms abroad because of the lack of Americans qualified to fill the positions.  Ehlers considers the poor understanding of science and math to be the United State's greatest security threat.  The No Child Left Behind Act has substituted partnership programs for the Eisenhower Professional Development Program, which fostered the professional development of math and science teachers.  While these partnerships may prove to be very effective, they are severely under funded in the president's current budget -- the partnership program was authorized for $450 million and funded at only $12.5 million last year.  Later in the hearing, Holt echoed Ehlers's concerns about the lack of funding for the partnerships.  He stressed the importance of ongoing professional development for teachers.  Hickok responded similarly to both members, agreeing that an emphasis needs to be placed on math and science education and that he would work with Congress to increase the amount of money allocated to the partnership program.  Holt emphasized that providing the partnerships with additional money would not be a dramatic increase but rather it would be making up for a drastic cut.  He finished by asking for Hickok to submit a list to the committee containing specific actions being done to connect professional development with student achievement.


Hearing on the Reauthorization of the Office of Education Research and Improvement
Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
June 25, 2002

At the June 25th Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing, members discussed the reauthorization of the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) and other issues pertaining to the Regional Assistance Act of 2002 (H.R. 3801), a bill passed by the House in early May.  H.R. 3801, introduced by Rep. Michael Castle (R-DE) in late February, aims to improve education research, statistics, evaluation, information, and dissemination.  This act would aid President Bush's education initiative, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).  Three witnesses were present, and their responses to NCLB were similar -- all witnesses recognized its potential benefits while expressing concern over issues that may interfere with NCLB's success.  

Michael Nettles, Vice Chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) discussed the great need for reliable and credible information on student achievement.  While the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is currently regarded as a dependable source for this type of information, the heightened future importance of these data make the assurance that it remains reliable, despite special interests and partisan politics, a concern.  It is crucial that NAEP is free from corruption both in reality and in public perception.  Nettles' solution for this was to protect NAEP by putting it in the control of the Governing Board, an unbiased organization.  He also pointed out that H.R. 3801 creates potential for increased ambiguity of authority over NAEP, as it would fall under multiple jurisdictions, jeapordizing its integrity.  Faye Taylor, Treasurer of the Education Leaders Council, also focused on the need for reliable education research.  She stressed the current lack of scientifically based research in the educational field and how this trend results in education policies lacking firm proof that they will be effective.  Her case for OERI reauthorization was that there needs to be a focus on the integrity, quality, and utility of education research -- a duty that she looked to OERI to see through.  LaMar Miller, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education at New York University, looked beyond research to the implementation of the new, research-based policies in the classroom.  The education world is experiencing a "proliferation of programs and initiatives" that have good intentions but for the most part end up being overwhelming and ineffective.  Miller called for the strengthening and expansion of Technical Assistance programs -- through the use of Comprehensive Centers -- to help teachers and school districts meet NCLB requirements.  From his experience, Miller believed that these programs provide the essential link between policy and reality.  A recurring theme throughout the hearing was the critical state of public education in this country, an increasingly dire situation.


Sources: Triangle Coalition, American Institute of Physics, National Science Teachers Association, Library of Congress, legislative text, and hearing testimony.

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at govt@agiweb.org.

Contributed by Margaret A. Baker, AGI Government Affairs, and Summer 2002 AGI/AIPG Intern Sarah Riggen.

Posted September 27, 2002

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