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House Speaker Ryan's Policy Blueprint Includes Early Learning, Career Education

The policy blueprint laid out by GOP Speaker of the House Paul Ryan includes proposals dealing with early learning and career and technical education, and also praises the Every Student Succeeds Act for providing additional support to charter schools. 

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"A Better Way: Our Vision for a Confident America" was created by the House Republicans' Task Force on Poverty, Opportunity, and Upward Mobility in order to address a variety of policy issues. It was presented to the public by Ryan and other House Republicans, including Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House education committee, on Tuesday.

The report doesn't spend a ton of time dealing with K-12, but there are a few things worth noting in the 35-page plan.

Early Education: The report states that while access to "high-quality" prekindergarten programs is important, the federal government has 14 programs that "explicitly provide early care or education for children" that do not deliver long-term results to disadvantaged children. It also criticizes federal Head Start programs for the much-discussed "fade out" effect, in which gains from these programs dissolve by the time children complete the 3d grade, according to research.

The solution? "A Better Way" wants more research to highlight the best early-education programs; less "redundancy" in the early-education and child-care programs Washington pays for; and a broader array of options for parents when choosing such programs.

At-Risk Youth: A decent chunk of this section on disadvantaged children and those who enter the juvenile-justice system is spent promoting school choice. The blueprint praises ESSA for its "federal support for high-quality charter schools." 

"Providing all children—particularly the most vulnerable children—better educational choices will give them a better chance to succeed beyond the classroom," the report states. 

The House Republican report also notes changes that ESSA makes to educational services for children in correctional and other juvenile-justice facilities. (On a related note, the National Center for Youth Law has put together a detailed fact sheet about how ESSA handles students in the juvenile-justice system as well as students in foster care.)  

The GOP blueprint also calls for at-risk children to be made more aware of the various services available to them for issues like substance abuse and mental health; recognizes that different regions might need some services more than others; and promotes school choice like the District of Columbia's Opportunity Scholarships program, which provides vouchers to students in D.C.

Career and Technical Education: Noting that in the 2012-13 academic year 11 million students in the country enrolled in career and technical education programs, "A Better Way" notes that federal funding for CTE programs isn't particularly flexible from states' perspectives. (The federal Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which provides just over $1 billion annually to CTE, was last reauthorized in 2006, and in March, then-Acting Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. called for it to be reauthorized so that, among other things, the courses that make up a good CTE program are better defined.)

In keeping with other sections of the report, Republicans on the task force want federal officials to "meddle" less with state and local decisions about workforce training. The blueprint also calls for better partnerships between CTE and local business in order to improve alignment between programs and in-demand jobs. 

Read the full "A Better Way" proposal below:

Photo: Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. is surrounded by the media as he arrives for a House GOP conference meeting at the Capitol last October.


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