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Election 2010 Preliminary Reaction
posted by: Alix | November 03, 2010, 04:42 PM   

Last night was a historic night for America. Republicans seized control of the U.S. House of Representatives and made significant gains in the Senate, including President Obama's former Illinois Senate seat. These outcomes will certainly have an impact on education policy in the U.S. along with intriguing results in state and local elections.

Republicans are claiming a "mandate" for smaller government – a shift that will most likely spell the end to emergency education spending aid to the states and a possible limited federal role in education policy.

According to Education Week:

"Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, the House minority leader who is likely to become the speaker of the House, said in an election-night speech that Republicans will "take a new approach that hasn't been tried before in Washington—by either party. It starts with cutting spending instead of increasing it. Reducing the size of government instead of expanding it."

That's likely to mean a move toward less federal involvement in education policy, which expanded under the Bush administration and the enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, analysts said.

It's also likely to lead to leadership changes under the new House majority. For example, Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., who is now the top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, is in line to become chairman of the panel, although final decisions about committee leadership won't be made before Congress convenes a lame-duck session later this month...

Spending was also a major issue this election season in both state and federal contests...

In a "Pledge to America" outlining their governance plan, House GOP leaders said they would like to return federal spending to fiscal 2008 levels, before Congress approved the stimulus and the Troubled Asset Relief Program, a rescue package for Wall Street.

Still unclear is the specific education policy direction the new majority might take in the House.

Mr. Boehner served as chairman of the House education committee back in 2001, and he worked closely with Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., who at the time was the top Democrat on the committee. The two shepherded NCLB through the House, where it garnered overwhelming bipartisan support.

Rep. Kline said in an interview earlier this fall that he's skeptical of the administration's $350 million program aimed at helping states develop common, richer assessments. He wants to ensure that it doesn't become a situation in which the Education Department is involved in creating the tests.

The Obama administration also asked for $1.35 billion in the fiscal 2011 budget to continue the Race to the Top program, a key administration priority born of the stimulus program, for an additional year and extend it to districts. Rep. Kline said in the interview that he wouldn't support that. He thinks the program was too rigid and imposed federal policy preferences on states.

But there are also issues on which Rep. Kline says he sees eye-to-eye with the administration, such as the need to encourage the proliferation of high-quality charter schools."

Only time will tell the long term impact of this election. Check back on our blog for more developments and analysis regarding federal and state policy implications.

What are your thoughts on the impact of this historic election?
Comment below.

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