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Jan Schakowsky on Education

Democratic Representative (IL-9)


Voted NO on reauthorizing the DC opportunity scholarship program.

Congressional Summary:The SOAR Act award five-year grants on a competitive basis to nonprofit organizations to carry out an expanded school choice opportunities to students who are District of Columbia residents and who come from households:
  1. receiving assistance under the supplemental nutrition assistance program; or
  2. with incomes not exceeding 185% of the poverty line.
Provides funds to the Mayor of DC, if the Mayor agrees to specified requirements, for:
  1. the DC public schools to improve public education, and
  2. the DC public charter schools to improve and expand quality public charter schools.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Bishop, R-UT]: In 1996, Congress insisted upon a charter school program in DC. You will hear from both sides of the aisle recognition of the great value that that program has, and justifiably so. There is a waiting list in DC for those charter schools. This bill increases the percentage of funding going to charter schools in the District. In 2003, an Opportunity Scholarship was instituted, at the insistence of Congress. Again, there was a waiting list of people wanting the opportunity; disadvantaged kids who wanted the opportunity that this scholarship afforded them. There were 216 kids at the time scheduled to enter the program who were not allowed; the bill remedies that.

Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Hastings, D-FL]: In the last 41 years voters have rejected private school vouchers every time they have been proposed. In 1981, 89% of the people in a referendum in DC voted against vouchers. So how dare we come here to tell these people that we are going to thrust upon them something they don't want without a single public official in this community being consulted. Congress' oversight of the District is not an excuse for political pandering to the Republicans' special interest of the day du jour.

Reference: Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (SOAR); Bill HRes186 ; vote number 11-HV200 on Mar 30, 2011

Voted YES on $40B for green public schools.

Congressional Summary:Make grants to states for the modernization, renovation, or repair of public schools, including early learning facilities and charter schools, to make them safe, healthy, high-performing, and technologically up-to-date.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Rep. BETSY MARKEY (D, CO-4): This legislation will improve the learning environment for our children, reduce energy costs and create new jobs across the country. Green schools not only save school districts money but also teach the importance of sustainable living to children at a young age.

Opponent's argument to vote No: Rep. GLENN THOMPSON (R, PA-5): We all know our Nation is drowning in a sea of red ink. The bill we're debating today would add an estimated $40 billion in new spending. And despite the majority's hollow promises of fiscal responsibility, there's nothing in the legislation to offset this hefty price tag with spending reductions elsewhere. This is just more of the same borrow and spend, spend and borrow policy that we've seen under this majority and this administration.

Reference: 21st Century Green Schools Act; Bill H.R.2187 ; vote number 2009-H259 on May 14, 2009

Voted YES on additional $10.2B for federal education & HHS projects.

Veto override on the bill, the American Competitiveness Scholarship Act, the omnibus appropriations bill for the Departments of Departments of Education, Health & Human Services, and Labor. Original bill passed & was then vetoed by the President.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Rep. OBEY: This bill, more than any other, determines how willing we are to make the investment necessary to assure the future strength of this country and its working families. The President has chosen to cut the investments in this bill by more than $7.5 billion in real terms. This bill rejects most of those cuts.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Rep. LEWIS: This bill reflects a fundamental difference in opinion on the level of funding necessary to support the Federal Government's role in education, health and workforce programs. The bill is $10.2 billion over the President's budget request. While many of these programs are popular on both sides of the aisle, this bill contains what can rightly be considered lower priority & duplicative programs. For example, this legislation continues three different programs that deal with violence prevention. An omnibus bill is absolutely the wrong and fiscally reckless approach to completing this year's work. It would negate any semblance of fiscal discipline demonstrated by this body in recent years.

Veto message from President Bush:

This bill spends too much. It exceeds [by $10.2 billion] the reasonable and responsible levels for discretionary spending that I proposed to balance the budget by 2012. This bill continues to fund 56 programs that I proposed to terminate because they are duplicative, narrowly focused, or not producing results. This bill does not sufficiently fund programs that are delivering positive outcomes. This bill has too many earmarks--more than 2,200 earmarks totaling nearly $1 billion. I urge the Congress to send me a fiscally responsible bill that sets priorities.

Reference: American Competitiveness Scholarship Act; Bill Veto override on H.R. 3043 ; vote number 2007-1122 on Nov 15, 2007

Voted YES on allowing Courts to decide on "God" in Pledge of Allegiance.

Amendment to preserve the authority of the US Supreme Court to decide any question pertaining to the Pledge of Allegiance. The bill underlying this amendment would disallow any federal courts from hearing cases concerning the Pledge of Allegiance. This amendment would make an exception for the Supreme Court.

Proponents support voting YES because:

I believe that our Pledge of Allegiance with its use of the phrase "under God" is entirely consistent with our Nation's cultural and historic traditions. I also believe that the Court holding that use of this phrase is unconstitutional is wrong. But this court-stripping bill is not necessary. This legislation would bar a Federal court, including the Supreme Court, from reviewing any claim that challenges the recitation of the Pledge on first amendment grounds.

If we are a Nation of laws, we must be committed to allowing courts to decide what the law is. This bill is unnecessary and probably unconstitutional. It would contradict the principle of Marbury v. Madison, intrude on the principles of separation of powers, and degrade our independent Federal judiciary.

Opponents support voting NO because:

I was disappointed 4 years ago when two judges of the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that our Pledge, our statement of shared national values, was somehow unconstitutional. I do not take legislation that removes an issue from the jurisdiction of this court system lightly. This legislation is appropriate, however, because of the egregious conduct of the courts in dealing with the Pledge of Allegiance.

By striking "under God" from the Pledge, the Court has shown contempt for the Congress which approved the language, and, more importantly, shows a complete disregard for the millions of Americans who proudly recite the Pledge as a statement of our shared national values and aspirations. No one is required to recite the Pledge if they disagree with its message.

Reference: Watt amendment to Pledge Protection Act; Bill H R 2389 ; vote number 2006-384 on Jul 19, 2006

Voted YES on $84 million in grants for Black and Hispanic colleges.

This vote is on a substitute bill (which means an amendment which replaces the entire text of the original bill). Voting YES means support for the key differences from the original bill: lowering student loan interest rates; $59 million for a new Predominantly Black Serving Institution program; $25 million for a new graduate Hispanic Serving Institution program; provide for year- round Pell grants; and repeal the Single Lender rule. The substitute's proponents say:
  • The original bill has some critical shortcomings. First and foremost, this substitute will cut the new Pell Grant fixed interest rate in half from 6.8% to 3.4%, to reduce college costs to those students most in need.
  • It would also establish a new predominantly black-serving institutions programs to boost college participation rates for low-income black students, and a new graduate Hispanic-serving institution program.
  • As we saw from 1995 to 2000, the questions employers were asking was not your race, not your ethnicity, not your religion, they wanted to know if you had the skills and talents to do the job. Most often today, those skills and that talent requires a higher education. A college education is going to have to become as common as a high school education.
    Reference: Reverse the Raid on Student Aid Act; Bill HR 609 Amendment 772 ; vote number 2006-080 on Mar 30, 2006

    Voted NO on allowing school prayer during the War on Terror.

    Children's Prayers Resolution: Expressing the sense of Congress that schools should allow children time to pray for, or silently reflect upon, the country during the war against terrorism.
    Reference: Bill sponsored by Isakson, R-GA; Bill H.Con.Res.239 ; vote number 2001-445 on Nov 15, 2001

    Voted YES on requiring states to test students.

    No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: Vote to pass a bill that would authorize $22.8 billion in education funding, a 29 percent increase from fiscal 2001. The bill would require states to test students to track progress.
    Reference: Bill sponsored by Boehner R-OH; Bill HR 1 ; vote number 2001-145 on May 23, 2001

    Reduce class size to 18 children in grades 1 to 3.

    Schakowsky co-sponsored an amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act:

      Amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to establish a grants program to:

    1. recruit, train, and hire 100,000 additional teachers over a seven-year period ;

    2. reduce class sizes nationally, in grades one through three, to an average of 18 students per classroom; and

    3. improve teaching in the early grades so that all students can learn to read independently and well by the end of the third grade.
    Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR1036 on Mar 14, 2001

    Rated 92% by the NEA, indicating pro-public education votes.

    Schakowsky scores 92% by the NEA on public education issues

    The National Education Association has a long, proud history as the nation's leading organization committed to advancing the cause of public education. Founded in 1857 "to elevate the character and advance the interests of the profession of teaching and to promote the cause of popular education in the United States," the NEA has remained constant in its commitment to its original mission as evidenced by the current mission statement:

    To fulfill the promise of a democratic society, the National Education Association shall promote the cause of quality public education and advance the profession of education; expand the rights and further the interest of educational employees; and advocate human, civil, and economic rights for all.
    In pursuing its mission, the NEA has determined that it will focus the energy and resources of its 2.7 million members toward the "promotion of public confidence in public education." The ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
    Source: NEA website 03n-NEA on Dec 31, 2003

    $25B to renovate or repair elementary schools.

    Schakowsky signed Fix America's Schools Today Act (FAST)

    Source: HR2948&S1597 11-HR2948 on Sep 15, 2011

    Comprehensive sex ed for sexually-active adolescents.

    Schakowsky co-sponsored Real Education for Healthy Youth Act

    Award competitive grants to provide adolescents with comprehensive sex education to:

    1. replicate evidence-based sex education programs,
    2. substantially incorporate elements of evidence-based sex education programs, or
    3. create a demonstration project based on generally accepted characteristics of effective sex education programs.
    Prohibits federal funds provided under this Act from being used for health education programs that:
    1. deliberately withhold life-saving information about HIV;
    2. are medically inaccurate or have been scientifically shown to be ineffective;
    3. promote gender stereotypes;
    4. are insensitive and unresponsive to the needs of sexually active youth or lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender youth; or
    5. are inconsistent with the ethical imperatives of medicine and public health.

    Opponent's argument against bill: (Nick Wing on Huffington Post) An abstinence-only effort, introduced the same day, the Abstinence Education Reallocation Act, stands as an effective counter to the Democratic-backed Real Education for Healthy Youth Act.

    According to the text of the abstinence-only bill, sex education programs would need to be "medically accurate" and teach the "skills and benefits of sexual abstinence as the optimal sexual health behavior for youth" in order to qualify for grant money. The bill also calls for applicable programs to focus on the "holistic health, economic, and societal benefits that can be gained by refraining from non-marital sexual activity," as well as to provide an "understanding of how drugs, alcohol, and the irresponsible use of social media can influence sexual decision-making and can contribute to risky and often aggressive sexual behavior."

    Source: H.R.725 / S.372 13-H0725 on Feb 14, 2013

    Sponsored 10/10 Loan Forgiveness: cancel college loans after 10 years.

    Schakowsky co-sponsored Student Loan Fairness Act

    Congressional Summary:Student Loan Fairness Act:

    Opponent's argument against bill: (Blog post on voices.yahoo.com, "Why I'm Against the Student Loan Fairness Act"): The two key points to this bill are:

    1. The 10-10 plan: Where an individual would be required to make ten years of payments at 10% of their discretionary income, after which their remaining federal student loan debt would be forgiven.
    2. Cap federal interest rates at 3.4% and allowing existing borrowers whose educational loan debt exceeds their income to convert their private loan debt into federal Direct Loans.
        Sounds enticing enough. They make a convincing argument that convinced over 200,000 people to sign their petition, many of whom shared their personal stories of student debt and how this act would change their lives. I disagree with all of them.
      • First, there is already student loan forgiveness act that erases your loans after 20 years. It is called Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act.
      • Many people who signed the petition argued that the government bailed out the banks, so why not us? The main difference [with TARP is that] most banks paid back the loans from TARP [while student loan forgiveness will make] $1 trillion magically disappear.
      • If the average college graduate is 22 years old, then we are talking about being debt free by 32. That is a risk I see many young college students willing to take.
      Source: H.R.1330 13-H1330 on Mar 21, 2013

      Sponsored extending subsidized federal student loan rates until 2015.

      Schakowsky co-sponsored Student Loan Affordability Act

      Congressional Summary:Amends title IV (Student Assistance) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to extend the 3.4% interest rate on Federal Direct Stafford loans to loans first disbursed to undergraduate students between July 1, 2011, and July 1, 2015. Replaces the [termination date of] 2013 with 2015.

      Proponent's argument for bill:(US PIRG press release): The Student Loan Affordability Act keeps interest rates affordable for students over the next two years. If Congress fails to act by July 1, interest rates on federal Subsidized Stafford Loans will double from 3.4% to 6.8%. That would hike the cost of college by $1,000 per student, per loan, for over 7 million students across the country. The bill pays for extending the current interest rates through 2015 by closing three non-education tax loopholes.

      Opponent's argument against bill:(Rep. Tom Cotton, R-AR): Unfortunately, too many students today struggle for years to repay their loans because Washington politicians dictate student-loan rates and end up hurting students and taxpayers alike. It's causing tuition costs to skyrocket, leaving students buried in debt, often without jobs, and forced to delay buying a home and starting a family. As students struggle to repay their loans--regardless of the interest rate--taxpayers are on the hook for a $100 billion bailout--a burden hard-working Arkansans shouldn't have to bear. A better path is to let Arkansas's hometown banks work with students and families to finance higher education, just as they do with homes, farms, businesses, and other loans. I'm committed to bringing affordable higher education to every Arkansan and ending the federal-government monopoly on the student-lending business.

      Source: S.707 / H.R.1433 13-H1433 on Apr 11, 2013

      Supported funding for teacher training & other initiatives.

      Schakowsky adopted the Women's Caucus policy agenda:

        The teams of the Women’s Caucus are charged with advancing action on their designated issues in a bipartisan manner. Legislation from Team 4. EDUCATION
      • HR455—Teacher Technology Training Act of 1999—A bill to provide grants to local education agencies to provide integrated classroom-related computer training for elementary and secondary school teachers. (Capps)
      • HR645—Teacher Technology Training Act of 1999—A bill to require states to incorporate technology requirements in teacher training content and performance standards. (Morella)
      • HR1307—After-School Children’s Education (ACE) Act—A bill to provide for grants, a national clearinghouse of information and a GAO report on the quality and availability of after school programs. (Castle)
      • HR1129—A bill to remove the 60 month limitation for taking a tax deduction of student loan interest. (Mink)
      • HR1456—A bill to improve the National Writing Project program. (Miller-CA)
      • HR637—Gifted and Talented Students Education Act of 1999—A bill to make improvements and expand the gifted and talented program. (Gallegly)
        The Caucus has also identified the following as priority areas:
      • School Construction Funding
      • Alternative Teacher Certification
      • School Violence
      • Support of Title I of ESEA
      • Gender Equity in Education
      • School Counselors
      Source: Women's Caucus Agenda-106th Congress 99-WC7 on Jul 15, 1999

      2012 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Education: Jan Schakowsky on other issues:
      IL Gubernatorial:
      Pat Quinn
      IL Senatorial:
      Doug Truax
      Jim Oberweis
      Mark Kirk
      Richard Durbin
      Sharon Hansen

      Left 113th Congress, 2013-2014:
      AL-1: Jo Bonner(R,resigned)
      FL-13:Bill Young(R,deceased)
      FL-19:Trey Radel(R,arrested)
      IL-2: Jesse L. Jackson(D,convicted)
      LA-5: Rodney Alexander(R,resigned)
      MA-5: Ed Markey(D,elected)
      MO-8: Jo Ann Emerson(R,resigned)
      NC-12:Mel Watt(D,appointed)
      NJ-1: Rob Andrews(D,investigated)
      SC-1: Tim Scott(R,appointed)

      Newly-elected special elections 2013-2014:
      AL-1: Bradley Byrne(R)
      FL-13:David Jolly(R)
      FL-19:Curt Clawson(R)
      IL-2: Robin Kelly(D)
      LA-5: Vance McAllister(R)
      MA-5: Katherine Clark(D)
      MO-8: Jason Smith(R)
      NC-12: Pending Jul.15
      NJ-1: Pending Nov.4
      SC-1: Mark Sanford(R)
      Won primary 2014:
      TX-4: John Ratcliffe(R)
      VA-7: Dave Brat(R)

      Retiring to run for Senate in 2014:
      AR-4: Tom Cotton(R)
      CO-4: Cory Gardner(R)
      GA-1: Jack Kingston(R)
      GA-10:Paul Broun(R)
      GA-11:Phil Gingrey(R)
      HI-1: Colleen Hanabusa(D)
      IA-1: Bruce Braley(D)
      LA-6: Bill Cassidy(R)
      MI-14:Gary Peters(D)
      MT-0: Steve Daines(R)
      OK-5: James Lankford(R)
      TX-36:Steve Stockman(R)
      WV-2: Shelley Moore Capito(R)

      Former Reps running for House in 2014:
      AL-5: Parker Griffith(R)
      CA-3: Doug Ose(R)
      GA-11:Bob Barr(R)
      CA-31:Joe Baca(D)
      IL-10:Bob Dold(R)
      IL-17:Bobby Schilling(R)
      MS-4: Gene Taylor(D)
      MT-0: Denny Rehberg(R)
      NH-1: Frank Guinta(R)
      NY-11:Vito Fossella(R)
      NY-18:Nan Hayworth(R)
      OH-7: John Boccieri(D)
      PA-13:Marjorie Margolies(D)
      TX-23:Francisco Canseco(R)
      Lost primary 2014:
      TX-4: Ralph Hall(R)
      VA-7: Eric Cantor(R)

      Retiring to run for State Office in 2014:
      AR-2: Tim Griffin(R)
      CA-35:Gloria McLeod(D)
      ME-2: Mike Michaud(D)
      PA-13:Allyson Schwartz(D)
      VI-0: Donna Christensen(D)

      Retiring effective Jan. 2015:
      AL-6: Spencer Bachus(R)
      AZ-7: Ed Pastor(D)
      CA-11:George Miller(D)
      CA-25:Howard McKeon(R)
      CA-31:Gary Miller(R)
      CA-33:Henry Waxman(D)
      CA-45:John Campbell(R)
      IA-3: Tom Latham(R)
      MI-4: Dave Camp(R)
      MI-6: Tom Petri(R)
      MI-12:John Dingell(D)
      MN-6: Michele Bachmann(R)
      NC-6: Howard Coble(R)
      NC-7: Mike McIntyre(D)
      NJ-3: Jon Runyan(R)
      NJ-12:Rush Holt(D)
      NY-4: Carolyn McCarthy(D)
      NY-21:Bill Owens(D)
      PA-6: Jim Gerlach(R)
      UT-4: Jim Matheson(D)
      VA-8: James Moran(D)
      VA-10:Frank Wolf(R)
      WA-4: Doc Hastings(R)
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      Page last updated: Jul 17, 2014