Washington, DC (PRWEB) January 16, 2014
While partisan rancor continues to create obstacles toward passage of critical education laws, there have been signs of bipartisan accord in the Senate on key issues around opportunity and equality, according to information from the National Education Association’s Legislative Report Card, released today. In fact, there is a notable increase in Republican senators earning grades of A, B or C in the report card, which reflects selected votes and other legislative actions for the first session of the 113th Congress. The annual report card measures members’ of Congress overall support for public education, students and educators, with each member receiving a letter grade of A through F.
Sixteen Senate Republicans earned grades of A, B or C in 2013, compared to just 5 in the 2011-12 ratings and 11 in the initial 2005-06 ratings. These statistics indicate that Senate Republicans are increasing the rate at which they vote for legislation that is important to students and educators. Top issues include immigration reform, college affordability, state taxation of online sales, and non-discrimination in the workplace. By contrast, only 25 House Republicans earned grades of A, B or C in 2013, compared to 35 in the 2011-12 ratings and 52 in the 2005-06 ratings. These numbers appear to confirm that there is an unfortunate downturn in the number of House Republicans who support bipartisan efforts to advance legislation that would address inequalities in schools, workplaces and communities.
“We’re encouraged by the uptick in bipartisan support on certain issues in the Senate, but there remains so much work to be done in both education policy and on issues that impact students, their families, and educators across the country,” said NEA director of Government Relations Mary Kusler. “To promote the success of all students and public education, in meaningful ways, we need to see more cooperation in areas where we’ve been continually deadlocked.”
NEA continues to work with Congress to reauthorize ESEA, expand early childhood education opportunities— particularly for children most in need—and to enact comprehensive immigration reform, among other issues. While there was some movement in 2013, political obstruction and lack of meaningful discussion to find consensus on key education issues remains an obstacle.
“Will 2014 be a year where Congress surprises the pundits and finds a way to reach some accord, or will we continue to see a Congress that is all too often stuck in partisan gridlock?” asks Kusler.
In addition to votes, the Report Card grades also reflect other key legislative actions, such as behind-the-scenes advocacy for education and educators, bill co-sponsorships, committee votes and members’ accessibility to education advocates in their home state or district.
Follow NEA at twitter.com/neamedia. See NEA’s letters to Congress here.
The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers.