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Election Impact on US Educational Technology Policy

This post is copied word-for-word, with permission, from Hilary Goldmann’s Voices Carry blog.  Hilary is the Director for Government Affairs, ISTE. She wrote this blog post on Nov 7, 2012, the day after Election Day.  MACUL is a ISTE Affiliate.

After all of the dollars spent, countless advertisements and robocalls, we woke up today to elected Executive and Legislative branches of government that in composition appear very similar to the one we had prior to the election.  President Obama was re-elected to a second term, Democrats retain control of the Senate while picking up at least one seat, and the House remains in Republican control with several races still too close to call.  Nonetheless, when the new Congress convenes in January, there will be some significant changes afoot as committee assignments are made and leadership positions are filled.  These changes in leadership and committee assignments will have a direct impact on education policy.

There are rumors that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi may step down, which would certainly shake things up on the House side for Democrats and would have implications for the workings between the two sides of the aisle.  Term limits will be in effect for eight House Committee Chairs, including Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan, Chair of the House Budget Committee (though it is expected that he will be granted a waiver and continue as the Chair of that powerful Committee).  Several Republican Senators will be term-limited as Committee Ranking Members. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) the Ranking Member of the Senate Health,Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will likely be replaced by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN). As with all elections, policymakers may choose to change committee assignments and serve on committees that are either perceived as more powerful or more in line with the needs of their district or state.  Therefore, it is likely that between retirements and shifting committee memberships we will have new leadership and members on many of the critical House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over education, broadband, funding, STEM and other important education policy areas.

Two  of education technology policy’s strongest advocates retired this year, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) author of the Achievement Through Technology and Innovation Act, and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) a leading advocate for the E-Rate program and education technology.  Judy Biggert (R-IL) who co-sponsored of the Achievement Through Technology and Innovation Act was defeated in her re-election bid.  We will miss their leadership and strong support of digital learning.

Thus, while leadership of the Executive and Legislative branches of government remain the same, (even Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has indicated his desire to remain for Obama’s second term), the inner workings of the government will change.

ISTE will continue our bi-partisan advocacy efforts to support a 21st century education for ALL students that ensures all high school graduates are college and career ready.