New U.S. Senate Ed Committee members bode well for students, educators, schools


by Félix Pérez

The 113th Congress was sworn in yesterday, and when it comes to public education it’s a fool’s errand to try to predict what actions and policies Congress might pursue. Nevertheless, knowing who the new members of the House and Senate education committees are can serve as a useful guidepost.

Education committees oversee programs that affect millions of students and educators from pre-K to higher education. Among the issues they address are teacher quality and training, early childhood education, education for students with disabilities, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, unpopularly known as No Child Left Behind, vocational and technical education, and the Higher Education Act. The committees’ actions often set the direction for what happens at the state, county and local levels.

Here then are three new lawmakers who are likely to play pivotal roles on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions this year:

Tammy Baldwin, WI

  • Served as U.S. Representative for Wisconsin’s Second Congressional District since 1999T Baldwin
  • Earned an ‘A’ in the National Education Association’s most recent Legislative Report Card
  • Authored a provision in the Affordable Care Act that allows young adults to stay on their parent’s insurance until age 26

Chris Murphy, CT

  • Served as U.S. Representative for Connecticut’s Fifth Congressional District since 2007C Murphy
  • Mother is a retired English as a Second Language Teacher
  • Established as a Connecticut state senator the Office of Child Protection to advocate for abused and neglected children
  • Earned an ‘A’ in the National Education Association’s most recent Legislative Report Card

Elizabeth Warren, MA

  • Former elementary school teacher and law school professorE Warren
  • Served as chairwoman of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), designed to protect taxpayers, hold Wall Street accountable, and ensure oversight of financial services institutions
  • Laid the foundation for the new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, charged with protecting consumers from financial traps hidden in mortgages, student loans, credit cards and other financial products

Editorial Note: Education Votes will run a similar article in the coming days about new members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

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