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Former Teacher Joins House Education Panel; Bipartisan Research Bill Out Today

Rep. Mark Takano, a former teacher from Riverside, Calif., has been tapped to serve on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the minority leader, announced last night.

If Takano's name sounds familiar, that's because he was one of the original sponsors, with Rep. Chris Gibson, D-N.Y., of a high-profile amendment to a bill reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that was passed by the House with GOP-only support last summer.

Takano's provision would have scrapped the requirement in the current No Child Left Behind version that states test students in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school. Instead, under his language, states would only have to test in certain grade spans: between grades 3 -5, 6-9, and 10-12.

Takano ultimately withdrew his sponsorship of the amendment. Democratic leaders, including Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., decided essentially that it was better for lawmakers not to offer amendments to a bill they considered really bad. And the amendment ultimately wasn't brought up for consideration. 

Gibson has since introduced similar language as a stand-alone bill, which has big backing from the National Education Association, although Takano is not a co-sponsor. Takano is scheduled to address the group on Capitol Hill later today, along with Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., (the first Republican to jump on board with the Obama administration's pre-kindergarten expansion).

Speaking of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, the panel will release a bill that would reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act, or ESRA, later today. Talks over ESRA—a wonky low-key bill—broke down late last fall because of disagreement over spending levels.

But, as we told you before, Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., and Rep. Miller were able to come to an agreement on suggested spending levels (or "authorizations" in Congress-speak), thanks in part to a new budget deal. Lawmakers had a much easier time hashing through the actual policy and the bill is likely to include a new focus on making sure research meets the needs of educators while ensuring student data is properly protected.

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