Magazine article Techniques

Democratic Takeover . . . Now What?

Magazine article Techniques

Democratic Takeover . . . Now What?

Article excerpt

DO YOU REMEMBER ALL OF THE PROMISES MADE in the political ads we viewed this past November? Many campaigns promised a change in course and a new direction. But how much of this rhetoric will actually become reality now that Democrats are in the majority, and what can we expect from the new Congress?

With regard to issues that affect career and technical education, I predict Congress will not produce a radically different agenda for several reasons:

1 Democrats must present a centrist message if they want to remain in control;

2 Democrats and Republicans on the education committees already agree on many of the core issues that affect career and technical educators;

3 Limits placed on the federal budget will make it difficult to propose new or expanded programs.

Priorities

The first three priorities proposed by the new chairman of the education committee in the House, Representative George Miller, were to increase the national minimum wage, reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), and make college more affordable. Minimum wage aside, NCLB and college affordability are issues that both Democrats and Republicans have talked about and viewed important. The Democrats have called for "full funding" of NCLB, but they remain supportive of the law and an education accountability system.

Democrats and Republicans both flatly rejected President Bush's plan to use Perkins money to expand NCLB into high schools and worked well together to reauthorize Perkins, more evidence that they are "on the same page." So, when it comes to education, the new Democrat agenda is not exactly earth-shattering change. Of course, Democrats will probably take a different course in reaching some of these goals, and they often are our strongest allies for additional funding, which brings us to the third point.

While we can expect some increases to education programs, we will not see large increases or many new programs. The current realities of the federal deficit and large expenses such as the war effort, tax cuts, and the rising costs of federal entitlement programs such as Social Security mean that funding is extremely restricted.

In fact, the looming deficit problem may require spending offsets for any new programs. Even if Democrats do change tax laws and the war comes to an end, the deficit will be here for a while. …

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