Wednesday, September 12, 2007

House Education and Labor Committee Holds Hearing on their Draft of ESEA

On Sunday, September 9th I boarded a plane bound for Washington, D.C. I joined nearly 40 other Team NEA members from around the country for a briefing at the NEA headquarters in anticipation for our day "on the hill" on Monday, September 10th.

NEA learned Wednesday evening that the House Education and Labor Committee will be holding a hearing on their draft of ESEA on Monday morning at 10 am in the Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2175. The hearing will probably last until 3 or 4 pm.

House Committee Chairman George Miller (at left) has put a process in place for the reauthorization of ESEA on a very quick timeline. NEA also learned that this may be the only hearing on over 1000 pages of the new statutory language before a full committee mark-up on the bill later this month. The committee posted draft language for Titles 2-9 (over 600 pages) late last night on their website and it is unclear if they will hold another hearing on those titles. NEA staff worked round the clock to analyze this very complicated and complex draft legislation.

NEA asked states to bring into DC one key person for each Member of Congress on our House Education and Labor Committee target list. We all attended the Sunday night briefing at NEA and were able to carry the NEA message about the serious problems with the ESEA draft to their Member of Congress on Monday. I represented Team ISEA with our targeted member of Congress, Congressman Dave Loebsack (CD 2).

The day of the hearing (Tuesday) NEA worked to place people strategically in the hearing room during the testimony and any deliberations. The hearing was held in the Rayburn House Office Building. NEA lobbyists worked to set appointments for each of us with our member of Congress. I first was to go to Congressman Loebsack's office in the Longworth House Office Building to meet his staffer Kara Marchione and walk together to the Cannon House Office Building where Congressman Loebsack was sitting in on the Armed Services Committee hearing (in which he's a member too). The Armed Services Hearing was running late so I got to watch the TV in Congressman Loebsack's office of the ESEA Hearing. Just about the time Chairman Miller announced the fifth of six panels (each with seven panelists) in which our own Team NEA President Reg Weaver was a member, we had to take off for the Cannon House Office Building. I missed the testimony of President Weaver (please watch the YouTube link to see Reg), but understand he made us all very proud!

Here I am (at right) with Congressman Dave Loebsack of Iowa's 2nd Congressional District. Congressman Loebsack shared his opposition to Merit Pay/Performance Based Pay with me. He said as a college professor he was very much opposed and especially when it would be tied to student test scores.

When our day on the hill was complete, we all headed back to the NEA headquarters to "debrief". Our session was led by NEA Deputy Executive Director John Stocks (pictured at left). When we are all in the midst of the day, I thought for a while we were getting whipped. But because of all the great planning by NEA staff (and the things that were going on all around us that I wasn't really "putting together") it was a tremendously successful day! But as good as the day was, our work isn't complete!

If you are an ISEA member in the 2nd Congressional District, please contact Congressman Loebsack and ask, "Reject the draft as currently written. Don't go from bad to worse on the so-called No Child Left Behind law. This draft does not provide Great Public Schools for Every Child!

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