Some questions:

How are education advocates responding to the separation of children and parents at our border?

Does Trump's proposal to merge the Departments of Education and Labor stand a chance in Congress?

How will education spending fare in the Senate bill next week?

Washington Update, June 22, 2018


Dear Colleagues:

It's been a week overshadowed by the chilling immigration policy separating children from families at the Mexico border. With election year dynamics fueling partisanship, the likelihood of major policy accomplishments before November looks slim.

1. Next Tuesday June 26: Big Day for Education on the Hill

2. Educators Weigh in on Immigration Policy Separating Parents and Children

Multiple education, civil rights and education organizations are weighing in on the policy of separating parents and children who cross the border with Mexico.

3. Trump Proposes Merger of Departments of Education and Labor

As part of his initiative to streamline the federal government, President Trump put forward a proposal this week to merge the Departments of Education and Labor. The White House notes it is intended to address a "confusing set of signals sent to American students and workers" about how to succeed in the 21st Century. The new Department would be called "The Department of Education and the Workforce." The proposal does not call for the elimination of particular programs; however, the Office of Management and Budget indicated that the merger is intended to eliminate duplicative programs and reduce administrative costs, including the federal workforce. The merger would need to be authorized by Congress, and therin lies the rub.

There was little encouragement from Congress. Chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee Virginia Foxx (R-NC) appeared to be the most enthusiastic noting "the federal government is long overdue for a serious overhaul." Her Senate counterpart, HELP Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), was more reserved noting "I think it's always wise to look for greater efficiency in how our government operates and I will study the proposal carefully." Ranking Member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) said the proposal was "hastily concocted" and a threat to program spending. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking Democrat on the HELP Committee called the proposal "unrealistic, unhelpful and futile." Hill staff are calling the proposal "dead on arrival."

The conservative Heritage Foundation's Lindsey Burke said "turning the Education Department into a career center is inappropriate." Multiple education organizations registered objections to the proposal, including the NEA, the AFT, AASA and Educators for Excellence.

Moving programs from one agency to another has happened in the past, but it is always an uphill battle in the Congress. Merging entire cabinet departments will be a steep mountain to climb and given the limited ability of Congress to move on any legislation, this is not one I am putting any money on!

4. New Resources for Educators

I spent today on Capitol Hill with 15 education doctoral students from the University of Maryland who are learning about policy. We had rich conversations with Hill staff from both sides of the aisle. It is always encouraging to know there are so many professional and knowledgeable staff despite the swirl of chaos that appears to encircle the Capitol. I take heart in this knowledge as it refuels my optimism!

Have a great weekend,and see you at @janewestdc



Jane E. West Ph.D.
Education Policy Consultant
Cell: 202.812.9096
Twitter: @janewestdc

© 2022 JaneWestConsulting