Welcome to Federal Policy Week, a blog that covers federal policy developments in education, research, science, agriculture, immigration, energy, environment, natural resources, and intellectual property. 

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Capitol News: Congressional, Administrative, and Court Actions

  • CONGRESS: Congressional Committees; Cantor on Education & Immigration; Immigration Proposals; For-Profit Institutions; Higher Education in Congress; Congressional Hearings
  • ADMINISTRATION & RELATED AGENCIES: SOTU; Administration Appointments; ESEA Flexibility;
  • COURTS: Copyright and Fair Use

Noteworthy News: Common Core & Early Childhood; North Carolina & Higher Education; Bush Foundation & Corporate Agenda; Online Courses & Credit; Value of College

In the Know: A Preview of Upcoming Events in DC.

Capitol News.


Congressional Committees.

  • House Appropriations.  The House Democrats announced membership and Ranking Members on the Appropriations Committee subcommittees.  Most notably for this blog, the Ranking Members are: Fattah (PA) – Commerce, Science Justice; Price (NC)– Homeland Security; LHHS-Education (DeLauro-CT)

Cantor on Education & Immigration.  In Majority Leader Cantor’s recent Make Life Work speech, he discussed his views on education and immigration, giving hope to immigration advocates. He promoted charter schools and school choice, immigration reform for STEM advanced degree graduates, the DREAM Act, and called for changes to higher education, including adopting methods to keep tuition low.

Immigration Proposals.

  • Senate: Following the bipartisan blueprint in the Senate (see posting Immigration and Education) Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced Immigration Innovation Act to expand visas for highly-skilled workers.  As reported by The Hill, the legislation would “increase the number of STEM visas and use the fees obtained from those visa applications to fund STEM education programs within the United States.”
  • House:  In the House, a group of bipartisan lawmakers are developing comprehensive immigration legislation in secret, according to The Hill.  The group is said to include, to varying degrees of commitment, Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Gutierrez (D-Il), Becerra (D-CA), Lofgren (D-CA), Carter (R-TX) Johnson (R-TX), Ryan (R-I), and Labrador (R-ID). House Judiciary Chairman Goodlatte has already held a hearing on immigration and he committed to aggressively work for solutions. The hearing is the first in a series on immigration, as reported by The New York Times.

Republicans and For-Profits.  While Republicans embrace “for-profit” institutions, despite evidence showing deceptive practices, high student default rates, and questionable educational value, House Education and Workforce Committee Higher Education Chairwoman Foxx (R-NC) may have taken the questioning of “for-profits” to a new level, as reported by Inside Higher Education.  In a recent speech, she told private college officials that they should have defended “for-profits” “warning” them that they were next by invoking the famous statement of Niemöller who chastised Germans who ignored Nazi persecutions (“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Socialist….”) stating, “First they came for the for-profits, and I didn’t speak up.”

Congressional Focus on Education.  At a recent event on higher education, senior Hill education staffers asserted Congress’ intention to focus on higher education policy this session according to The Chronicle.  While not a surprise, the House Republicans plan to focus on regulations of for-profit institutions, while the Senate Democrats plan to pursue consumer protection for students attending those same institutions. In addition, they will examine accreditation issues, tuition costs and gear up for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act in 2014.

Congressional Hearings (Last week and this week)

  • House Education & Workforce Committee:
  1. “Challenges and Opportunities Facing America’s Schools and Workplaces” February 5, 2013
  2. “Raising the Bar: How Education Innovation Can Improve Student Achievement” February 14, 2013.Senate Judiciary:
  3. Comprehensive Immigration Reform, February 13, 2013.
  • Senate HELP:
  1. No Child Left Behind: Early Lessons from State Flexibility Waivers February 7, 2013.

Administration & Independent Agencies:

  • State of the Union: Tuesday, February 12.
  • Administration Appointments.  President Obama is slowly announcing his replacements for Cabinet and high-ranking officials for his second term. The National Journal maintains a list of prospects for each position.  While several key people, like Duncan at Education and Holder at Justice, will stay put, a top position affecting all government departments and agencies is for OMB, where Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who heads the Walmart Foundation, is considered the top contender. With the departure of NSF Director Suresh to become President of Carnegie Mellon University, the President will need another replacement for a science-research agency.
  • Education – ESEA FlexibilityED released several documents on the flexibility programs under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  These documents explain the program and purport to provide mechanisms for states and local school districts to target funding to students and schools in need.


Electronic Course Reserves.  Another copyright case, Cambridge U. Press et al. v. Mark P. Becker et al, involving publishers and a university moves to an appellate court (11th Circuit).   As reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education, three publishers sued the Georgia State for making some of their material available in unlicensed e-reserves.  The District Court ruled that Georgia State violated copyright law in only a small fraction of the cases. The publishers appealed the case.  In one interesting twist DOJ is weighing the possibility of filing an amicus brief supporting the publishers.


Common Core and Early Childhood Education. There is no lack of critics of the Common Core Standards curriculum.  The Washington Post published a scathing critique of the standards as applies to early childhood education, including the fact that the Core was developed without real input from those who know early childhood education best: teachers and child development experts.  The critique challenges the notion that the standards are based on research and alleged dismissal of criticism of the standards by experts in the field provided prior to finalizing the Standards.

As Texas and Florida Goes, So Goes NC.  Following in the footsteps of his Republican colleagues, Govern McCrory of North Carolina is proposing legislation that would base funding for universities based on post-graduate employment and attacking liberal arts, according to Inside Higher Education.

Bush & Corporate Education.  A recent report in The Washington Post showed that education foundation founded by former Florida Governor Bush is working to change laws to benefit the corporate donors of the foundation. The article provides extensive details on the connections between the foundation and the donors. Education foundations have had a major impact on federal policy development so it is important to understand their objectives and funding (although many major foundations are funded by individuals – with personal biases and objectives – not corporations that produce educational materials).

Online & Credit. The American Council on Education (ACE) announced that five Coursera courses are eligible for credit: Pre-calculus; Intro to Genetics and Evolution; Bioelectricity; Calculus; and Algebra.  In the push for federal policy to reduce the cost of college and move courses on line, if successful, this may prove the step that changes college as we know it.

The Value of College.  While some state and federal policy makers question the value of college, Americans generally believe a college education has value.  As reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Americans believe higher education is critical for a “good job and achieving financial security, but they have doubts about its quality and affordability.”  The conclusions come from a recent report by the Lumina Foundation and Gallup. The article also mentions that most people favor reform of higher education to adapt to the new environment of working adults.


Upcoming Events (listed by date):

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