Secretary of Education Arne Duncan returned to Capitol Hill this week to once again defend the President’s FY 2015 budget for the Department of Education (ED) before the Senate Budget Committee on May 6. This was Secretary Duncan’s fourth visit to Capitol Hill to defend ED’s FY 15 budget. The Senate also confirmed Theodore “Ted” Mitchell as Under Secretary of Education with a quick vote on Thursday.
Not surprisingly, Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) praised the Secretary for his strong support for increasing the federal investment in education. Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-AL) had a very different view, expressing deep concern for the increases included in the President’s plan and the lack of attention paid to the staggering national debt. In his view, the best and only way to increase the investment in education, which he too believes is important, is to eliminate this debt.
Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) praised both the Secretary and the budget plan in her opening statement, noting that at a time when college is becoming unaffordable, K-12 schools are struggling, adults are in need of far better job training assistance and our allies around the world are increasing their investment in education, the United States is falling behind. The achievement gap that exists for low-income and minority students creates an education deficit that they can never fill, according to Murray.
Secretary Duncan repeated his previous testimony, saying, in summary, that the education budget is aimed at closing achievement gaps, from birth through career. While U.S. student performance has been at a standstill, our competitors have been increasing their education spending and surpassing us at all levels.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) focused his questions on teachers being overburdened with regulatory pressures from the federal government, which Duncan mostly agreed with. Both Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) criticized the Administration on the gainful employment regulations, the Common Core and additional requests for preschool programs.
Source: Washington Partners