Five one-time congressional aides, all with over a decade of experience in Washington, have teamed up to form Penn Hill Group, a new government relations firm that will specialize in a range of issues, including K-12 policy.

Invitations went out today to about 2,000 school districts that got federal funding in the past year under some of the department's signature competitive grant programs.

The Secretary of Education says K-12 policy can be a rare area of bipartisan agreement in a divided Washington.

The list includes Race to the Top winners, ESEA reauthorization on hold, abolishing the Education Department, the split in the Democratic party, and more.

Giving districts wiggle room on No Child Left Behind's requirements would hurt the chances for reauthorization and just generally create a messy renewal process, according to a survey of Beltway Insiders and other edu-smarty-pants

Under the new Republican majority, the panel also is going back to its previous name, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce

It will be up to the new, more fiscally conservative Congress to decide if if President Obama's signature education reform program will be extended.

A new, more conservative Congress will get to set 2011 spending levels for K-12 programs.

Schools would be required to conduct comprehensive background checks for any employee using state criminal and child abuse registries and the FBI's fingerprint database, under a bill that the U.S. House of Representatives is considering today.

The buzz is that education could get a much more prominent role than usual in the president's State of the Union address early next year. And lawmakers want to be ready.

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