Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 14
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 13
DeVos, a wealthy Republican political donor with no teaching experience, by promising to appoint
someone who has taught in public
Teacher supporters have widely
assumed that would be a public K-12
teacher, but Feldman left the door
open to an appointee with a higher
" The vice president [Biden] hasn't
gone beyond saying it will be a person with public school experience, so
I will leave it at that, " she said.
On Nov. 10, Biden announced a
transition team for the Education
Department largely composed of
former Obama administration officials and representatives from teachers' unions. It will be led by Linda
Darling-Hammond, the president of
the California state education board
and founder of the Learning Policy
Institute, who also helped oversee
Obama's education transition. Darling-Hammond had been rumored to
be a possible Biden education secretary pick,but has said she wasn't interested in that role.
DeVos was a popular target for
Democratic candidates during the
primary, largely for her efforts to
Who Could End Up Heading
Top Senate Panel
On Education Issues
By Andrew Ujifusa
Like many of President-elect Joe Biden's plans, getting
his education agenda through the Senate will depend in
part on which party ends up controlling the chamber. That
now hinges on two January runoff elections in Georgia,
where the fate of two incumbent Republican senators will
determine the majority.
In addition, the Senate education committee will need a
new leader no matter who takes over the panel.
The coronavirus pandemic's impact on schools will likely
dominate the committee's time, whoever runs it. And
there's plenty more on the panel's plate, including laws
about student privacy, special education, and other issues
that are overdue for an overhaul.
The political fallout from a divisive election could be a
big X-factor in how whoever leads the committee handles
Biden's education secretary nominee and other key issues
going forward. And remember that the Senate education
committee also deals with health, labor, and pension issues.
Here's a look at the senators who could ascend on the
committee depending on what happens in the upcoming
battle over control, along with the issues committee leaders
will face in 2021.
If Republicans Hold the Senate ...
Regardless of what happens in those January runoff elections, the committee will go forward without Sen. Lamar
Alexander, R-Tenn., the committee chair and one of the
nation's most experienced education policy figures. He's
retiring at the end of this Congress. Alexander has led the
panel since 2015 and was a primary architect of the Every
Student Succeeds Act. He's been a governor, U.S. education
secretary, and university president. There's no like-for-like
replacement on the way.
In the next Congress, " It's not going to look like how it
worked with Lamar, " said Noelle Ellerson Ng, the associate
executive director of AASA, the School Superintendents
Going by rank on the committee, the Republican set to
replace Alexander is Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. Next in line
is Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., followed by Sen. Susan Collins,
When Congress passed ESSA in 2015, Burr successfully pushed for a change to how federal money to train,
recruit, and retain teachers and principals is distributed to
schools. Essentially, this formula shift under Title II gives
more weight to states' poverty rates and less weight to their
Burr has said he will leave office when his term ends
in 2022. That leaves him little time to make his mark as
14 | EDUCATION WEEK | November 18, 2020 | www.edweek.org
promote tax-credit scholarships and
vouchers that allow students to use
public funds to attend private schools.
And while Biden has slammed
those efforts, supporters of private
school choice, like the Center for
Education Reform, have said the
conversations started under Trump
will likely continue well into Biden's
While Biden has stressed his differences from Trump on education, some
education policy wonks who favor rigorous accountability measures have la-
mented his differences from his former
governing partner, President Barack
Obama's administration piloted controversial school improvement and
teacher-evaluation strategies, and it
encouraged states to lift caps on charter schools and to adopt " college- and
career-ready standards " like the common core.
By contrast, Biden has criticized
" high-stakes testing, " called for new
limits on federal support of charter
schools and emphasized funding over
new forms of accountability.
There could yet be tensions ahead on
some of those priorities, however.
chairman on the committee. Burr also has an ethics scandal
dogging him: He resigned as chairman of the Senate intelligence committee earlier this year after the FBI opened an
investigation into stock sales he made ahead of a market
drop as the coronavirus spread.
In 2016, Burr voted against the confirmation of John B.
King Jr. to be President Barack Obama's education secretary
and said he did so in part because of King's support for the
Common Core State Standards. Burr also has spoken out
against federal mandates in education generally and said
parents and local school boards are the best decisionmakers
in education. He voted for ESSA.
Paul, who's run for president and arguably has a higher
national profile than Burr, might be more of a wild card
as chairman. Although he doesn't always stick with GOP
orthodoxy, his push to cut back or get rid of the Education
Department and his robust school choice proposals might
make negotiations a dicey matter.
" What I would anticipate with Paul is that potentially
common ground on bipartisan bills would be harder to
come by, " said Danny Carlson, the associate executive
director of the National Association of Elementary School
This year, Paul has made headlines for disagreeing
publicly with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about the best
response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Collins is notable for voting against U.S. Secretary of
Education Betsy DeVos' confirmation in the Senate in 2017,
although she did vote to advance DeVos' nomination out of
the committee. She later clashed with DeVos about funding
for the Rural Education Achievement Program. She's also a
champion of after-school programs.
However, Collins won reelection and plans to take
over the powerful Senate appropriations committee if, as
expected, there's a vacancy for that job after 2022 and the
Republicans keep the Senate. That job has a direct impact
on federal education spending.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler, one of the two incumbent GOP Georgia senators in the January runoff elections, is a member of
the education committee.
If Democrats Control the Senate ...
Democratic control would come if the runoffs produce a
50-50 split in the Senate, with a Democratic vice president-who would serve as president of the Senate-as the
Under that scenario, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is the
committee's top Democrat, a former preschool teacher, and
the most obvious candidate to take over as the committee
However, if Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., joins the Biden
administration, Murray would become the next in line to
lead the Senate budget committee. (Sanders is currently
the top Democrat on the budget committee.) That panel is
generally considered more influential than the education
Democrats for Education Reform,
which supports charter schools, endorsed Biden, but the group's president, Shavar Jeffries, has said it will
need " to push him " on some issues,
like accountability and innovation.
" If we only talk about the money side
of the equation, that's not enough by
itself, " Jeffries told Education Week in
August, when Democrats unveiled a
platform with language critical of charter schools. " That's where we need our
president to be a leader and hold those
institutions accountable. "
Assistant Editor Andrew Ujifusa
contributed to this article.
In that case, the next Democrat in line to lead the Senate
education panel based on seniority would be Sen. Bob
Casey, D-Pa. Sanders also happens to be next in line, seniority-wise, to lead the education committee after Murray. But
other political considerations might make that scenario a
During her time on the committee, Murray worked
closely with Alexander to help write ESSA. Since then, she's
lobbied for vigorous oversight of how states and schools are
adhering to the law's accountability provisions. She's also
been an advocate for early-education funding and successfully pushed for new Preschool Development Grants as part
of ESSA's passage.
In addition, she's criticized the Trump administration's
Title IX rule for how schools must respond to reports of
sexual misconduct, saying it would hurt survivors of assault
and harassment. During the pandemic, she also advocated
for a significant federal relief package for schools, including $175 billion in a stabilization fund for K-12 education
and dedicated funding for the E-rate, while scorning school
choice proposals from the White House.
Murray and Alexander worked productively together
at several points, although the Trump administration and
DeVos' tenure put a strain on the relationship.
" They were both able to push for and support compromise, " said Ellerson Ng of AASA, the School Superintendents Association, referring to Alexander and Murray. " Alexander and Murray just got along. ... Both took the committee
seriously, both wanted to advance education policy. "
One of Murray's first big jobs as committee leader would
be overseeing the confirmation hearing for President-elect
Joe Biden's nominee for education secretary. While Murray would work to ensure a friendly atmosphere for the
nominee, DeVos' controversial nomination hearing before
a GOP-controlled committee in 2017 is a reminder that the
process isn't an automatic cakewalk.
Technically, ESSA is up for reauthorization, but there's
little indication Murray would prioritize overhauling a law
she helped write. Still, Murray could hold some oversight
hearings to focus on how schools are addressing students'
needs under ESSA in the context of the pandemic.
She also might not see eye-to-eye with other Democrats
about things like testing waivers the Education Department
might give to states due to the pandemic's disruption; Murray supported DeVos' announcement earlier this year that
states shouldn't expect those waivers, although the Biden
administration might have other ideas.
Otherwise, Ellerson Ng said Murray has been a " big
champion " of coronavirus relief for schools, and that will
likely continue in the next Congress.
Murray holds several powerful positions on Capitol Hill.
She is the third-ranking member of Senate Democrats'
leadership team and a senior Democrat on the Senate
appropriations committee, which helps set annual federal
spending levels for different departments. Her clout could
serve education interests particularly well during coronavirus relief negotiations if she adds the leadership of the
education committee to her portfolio.
Education Week - November 18, 2020
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - November 18, 2020
Education Week - November 18, 2020
Did COVID-19 Really Drive Teachers to Quit?
As Election 2020 Grinds On, Young Voters Stay Hooked
Getting Schools Open: A No-Win Decision as Virus Cases Surge
‘Schools Need to Be Bolder’ About Reopening, Public Health Expert Says
What to Watch as Biden Administration Charts Its Own Path on Education Policy
Who Could End Up Heading Top Senate Panel on Education Issues
Families Not Engaging Remotely? Rethink the Problem
The Election Was Traumatizing For Many Students (and Educators)
The New Face of Teacher Demoralization
What the Research Says
Letters to the Editor
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - Education Week - November 18, 2020
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - CW2
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 1
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - Briefly Stated
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 3
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - What the Research Says
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 5
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - Did COVID-19 Really Drive Teachers to Quit?
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 7
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - Getting Schools Open: A No-Win Decision as Virus Cases Surge
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - ‘Schools Need to Be Bolder’ About Reopening, Public Health Expert Says
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 10
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 11
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - What to Watch as Biden Administration Charts Its Own Path on Education Policy
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 13
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - Who Could End Up Heading Top Senate Panel on Education Issues
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 15
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - Families Not Engaging Remotely? Rethink the Problem
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - The Election Was Traumatizing For Many Students (and Educators)
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - Letters to the Editor
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 19
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - The New Face of Teacher Demoralization
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - CW3
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - CW4
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - SC1
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - SC2
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S1
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S2
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S3
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S4
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S5
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S6
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S7
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S8
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S9
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S10
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S11
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S12
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S13
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S14
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S15
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S16
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - SC3
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - SC4