Harkin to Helm HELP; Whole Child Victory?
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) will step in to fill the late Senator Kennedy's post as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP). He will have to give up chairmanship of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
In addition to his new role as HELP chair, Harkin also heads the subcommittee on education spending, meaning he'll have a big say in both shaping education policy and making sure that K-12 programs are funded.
As senator, Harkin has been a strong supporter of whole child education, particularly for students with special needs, both in his state and at the federal level. He also called for changing the federal Teacher Incentive Fund so that teachers would have more input in shaping the program. In 2006, Harkin was the first recipient of ASCD's Whole Child Leadership Award. Harkin's own words portend the potential effect of his new chairmanship:
"I agree with the need to educate the whole child and not focus solely on test-taking skills. I also support the need to bring more quality, effective teachers into the classroom, but many of the problems No Child Left Behind has encountered stem directly from a lack of funding."
ASCD policy Twitterers sum it up in less than 140 characters:
Harkin HELP chairman + 60 Senate dems + Dem House + Obama = full funding for IDEA?
Senator Harkin accepts the ASCD Whole Child Leadership Award
from ASCD CEO Gene R. Carter.