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Rep. John Kline Wants to Stay On as Education Chairman

Inside baseball alert: Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House education committee, said he wants to stay in his role in the next Congress. There's been some discussion that Kline, who stepped in to take the committee's ranking member slot in the middle of a congressional session, would need a waiver to remain in his post after this Congress. (There are term limits for some congressional leadership posts.)

"I'd like to be chairman again," Kline told me. "It's unclear if a waiver would be required. There's a big discussion going on about House rules, conference rules, so that will need to be resolved and all questions like this are resolved by the steering committee."

So while process is still a little murky, Kline's desire is clear. "I'll be making my case to my colleagues and peers that I ought to be chairman again," he said.

Kline, who represents a politically divided district in suburban Minnesota, helped shepherd a bill revising the Elementary and Secondary Education Act through the U.S. House of Representatives last summer that turned over a lot of say on accountability to state and district officials. But to gain support for it among conservatives he had to jettison one of his top priorities: language that would have required districts to develop a definition of teacher effectiveness that relied in part on student outcomes. Instead the bill makes this optional.

Kline has pushed to give local officials more flexibility over how they spend federal education dollars, to the delight of school administrators and the chagrin of civil rights organizations who worried the push could hurt particular populations of students.  And he helped muscle a major makeover of the student lending program through Congress last year. 

Meanwhile, the top Democrat on the education committee, Rep. George Miller of California, is definitely stepping down after this Congress. Miller and Kline have collaborated on some smaller bills, and have a good personal relationship. Rep. Bobby Scott of Virgnia has already thrown his hat in the ring for Miller's post. But he'll have to make a case to House leaders, too. 

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