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Aggressive Edu-Oversight on the Horizon?

Yesterday, I talked about a few of the key takeaways from the "making sense of the midterms" event I held here at AEI on Tuesday. I wanted to continue today with a final comment on oversight.

It's now clear that House Republicans are going to launch an aggressive series of oversight and investigative hearings. Majority Leader-to-be Eric Cantor and Rep. Darrell Issa, in line to chair the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, have been talking about the forceful hearings schedule they've got in mind. And Rep. John Kline, expected to chair the House Committee on Education and Labor, has said that the need to step up oversight is one of his primary objectives in the next Congress.

It's pretty likely that this will include hard looks at favored edu-programs like Race to the Top and i3. For those who recall the Democratic hearings on Reading First, it's easy to imagine how some of the luster may be rubbed off these programs. Aggressive oversight, especially if some of the hearings hit home, will produce bruised feelings and make it harder to cooperate on reauthorization. And we'll have to see what the House might do as far as looking at ED's push to craft regulations around "gainful employment" or implement the changes to student lending in the health care bill.

For what it's worth, conversations in the past week have left me thinking that the administration and its key allies never really believed that the Republicans might aggressively pursue hearings into RTT, i3, or related efforts. It doesn't seem like they're steeled for the pushback or girded to answer any concerns.

For instance, here's where ED would've been well-advised to follow Andy Rotherham's advice a few months back to convene a commission to review RTT and i3 for the purpose of identifying problems, missteps, and to offer recommendations. Such an effort could've proved real helpful in anticipating and addressing concerns should the House press forward. Whoops.

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The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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