NSTA Legislative Update
March 1, 2010

House Ed and Labor Leaders Announce Plans to Reauthorize NCLB

Leaders of the House Education and Labor Committee have announced plans to work together to reauthorize No Child Left Behind, also known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

In a joint statement the leaders called for “a bipartisan, open and transparent effort to rewrite No Child Left Behind—a law that we all agree is in need of major reform,” and announced a series of hearings (see next item) will “explore the challenges and opportunities ahead as we work to ensure an excellent education is available to every student in America.” Groups and stakeholders have been asked to send the committee their input and suggestions for ESEA at eseacomments@mail.house.gov. The deadline for comments is March 26, 2010.

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Duncan to Testify Before Ed and Labor Committee Wednesday, March 3

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will appear before the House Education and Labor Committee on Wednesday, March 3 at 9:30 a.m. in 2175 Rayburn H.O.B. to discuss how strong and innovative education reforms can help rebuild the U.S. economy and restore our competitiveness.

Secretary Duncan will discuss President Obama’s education agenda, including his budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2011, which calls on Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and pass the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act. The hearing will be webcast live from the Education and Labor Committee website.

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President Obama, Department of Education Announce Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge

The White House and the Department of Education have announced the first annual Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge, inviting public schools across the country to compete to have President Obama speak at their graduation this spring.

Applications should be completed by students and must be submitted by a high school’s principal to www.WhiteHouse.gov/Commencement no later than Monday, March 15 th. at 11:59 pm EST.  Each school may submit only one application and high schools must be public to apply.   Following the application deadline, six finalists will be selected by the White House and Department of Education.  These schools will then be featured on the White House website and the public will have an opportunity to vote for the three schools they think best meet the President’s goal.  The President will select a national winner from these three finalists and visit the winning high school to deliver the commencement address to the class of 2010.

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Update on America Competes

Congress has begun work on reauthorizing the America Competes Act, and Rep. Bart Gordon, chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, has vowed to get a bill done by Memorial Day. America Competes, passed into law in 2007 to strengthen the nation’s economic competitiveness, includes many programs in the STEM fields.

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Department of Education Unveils Innovation Web Portal

The Department of Education has developed a new online portal where education stakeholders, including teachers, school administrators, parents, foundations, nonprofit organizations, and the American public can “share their innovative ideas and collaborate to turn those ideas into a new reality.”

“By connecting an idea from a teacher in Maine to a principal in Oklahoma, or a teacher-entrepreneur in North Dakota with a foundation in New York, the Portal will be a national marketplace of ideas of how we can ensure that every American child will graduate ready to succeed in college and the workplace,” says Education Secretary Arne Duncan ... “the innovative ideas that will transform our education system will not come from Washington, D.C. They will come from communities across the country. The Department of Education will play a role as convener of these diverse ideas and facilitator of partnerships. The Innovation Web Portal is the first of a number of initiatives that the Department will launch over the coming months as we work to build these partnerships that will drive innovation in education.

Visit the Innovation Portal at https://innovation.ed.gov/.

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Engineering in Education Bills Introduced in House and Senate

A bill that would strengthen engineering education in K–12 schools has been introduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R.4709) and the Senate (S.3043).

The Engineering Education for Innovation Act (also called the E2 for Innovation Act of 2010) would authorize the Secretary of Education to competitively award planning and implementation grants for educational agencies to integrate engineering education into K–12 curriculum and instruction.  It also funds the research and evaluation of such efforts.

In September 2009, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council released a report entitled Engineering in K–12 Education: Understanding the Status and Improving the Prospects.  The report studied K–12 engineering curricula and instructional practices. It stressed the need for greater coordination among key stakeholders to develop common definitions and grade-level appropriate goals, as well as more research on the impacts of engineering education and potential models for implementation. The E2 for Innovation Act seeks to further these recommendations through implementation of K–12 engineering education and related evaluation research.

Both bills have been referred to the Education committees in their respective chambers. For more information on the bills and their co-sponsors, visit www.thomas.loc.gov.

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