On Thursday I had the opportunity to attend a House committee hearing for my internship. The hearing was entitled "Education in the Nation: Examining the Challenges and Opportunities Facing America's Classrooms". It was incredibly interesting (and long). One of the things that made the hearing unique was that education is a relatively bipartisan issue and people from both sides of the aisle were agreeing and making similar comments. Even the chairman and the ranking member commented that they could have switched speeches for their opening testimony.
This hearing is important because the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) also known as No Child Left Behind, is up for renewal this year, and there is much speculation as to how to improve it.
The four witnesses testifying were:
Lisa Graham Keegan- Education Breakthrough Network
Dr.Tony Bennett- Indiana Department of Education
Andrew Coulson- Director of the Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom
Ted Mitchell- President of the NewSchools Venture Fund
The main topics discussed revolved around holding teachers accountable if their students perform poorly, ways to measure achievement aside from state testing, and having local governments and school districts have much more control over education. Other interesting topics mentioned include: the importance of parental responsibility, evaluating teachers annually even if they have tenure, revising the tenure system, extending the school day, and revising the licensing process for becoming a teacher so that adults changing careers who have knowledge in a topic are more easily able to become teachers.
Over the past 50 years, the United States has spent over $2 trillion on education, but students still have not been improving. Only 69% of students will get a high school diploma and many employers are noticing that the people they hire do not have sufficient reading, writing, and math skills.