Committee on Education and the Workforce

John Kline

Kline, Alexander Call for GAO Study on Education Department’s Waiver Requirements

2014/08/12

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), senior Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, today requested a study from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the Department of Education’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waiver policies.

In a letter to GAO, they wrote, “In 2011, the department began issuing waivers to states regarding specific requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, and to date, 42 states and the District of Columbia have received ESEA waivers. In order to receive waivers, these states were required to comply with a new set of requirements, not authorized by Congress, related to standards and assessments, school accountability, and teacher and principal evaluation systems.”

The lawmakers noted the supporting documentation required to obtain waivers in their home states, which ranged from more than 700 to more than one thousand pages. “However, Congress has little information about how the department utilizes the data required of these and other states to grant, deny, renew, or revoke a state waiver,” they wrote. “Additionally, Congress has little insight into how states are impacted by the time and cost associated with applying for and implementing these waiver requirements.”

“Finally, the department has recently altered various requirements for certain states regarding implementation timelines for teacher and principal evaluation systems. At the same time, other states have had their waivers put on ‘high risk’ status, and Washington recently had its waiver revoked, over issues related to teacher and principal evaluation systems. The department has provided no justifications for these seemingly contradictory decisions.”

To read the full letter, click here.

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NLRB’s Latest Assault on America’s Workplaces

2014/08/01

One has to ask what exactly the Obama National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has against America’s workplaces. In recent years, the NLRB has restricted workers’ access to the secret ballot, advanced a rule that would stifle employer free speech and cripple worker free choice, and tried to dictate where private employers can create jobs.

Now the NLRB has opened a new front in its war on workplaces. The agency’s general counsel, long-time union operative Richard Griffin, issued a decision that would overturn a franchise model in place for years. Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) described the decision as “detached from reality” and noted:

While the board is considering this very issue, the general counsel is trying to rewrite the franchise model workers, employers, and consumers have known for decades. This is yet another activist decision from the general counsel's office. Big Labor has scored once again at the expense of workers and employers.

Andrew Puzder, chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants, a company that includes iconic names such as Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., describes what’s at stake for workers and employers:

If the NLRB's new interpretation of the rules—which McDonald's has vowed to contest—becomes the law of the land, it will be tantamount to rewriting an existing contractual relationship by government fiat in ways the parties never contemplated and to their mutual detriment. Franchisers would inevitably pass the costs of jointly managing their franchisees' employees on to their franchisees. Franchisees would find themselves unable to control their labor costs, a key controllable expense and an important element of their profitability.

It's a lose-lose scenario for everyone—except for the labor unions that have long dreamed of organizing restaurant workers nationwide. Even if that dream were realized, though, there would soon be fewer workers to unionize as franchise restaurants began to shut down. The NLRB's attack on the franchise business model is especially unfortunate because franchising plays an integral role in the U.S. economy.

The question is: Who benefits from the NLRB’s new legal invention? The Wall Street Journal has the answer:

This is a bonanza for trial lawyers who will be able to shake down the parent company for alleged labor violations at franchisees whose pockets aren't as deep. The other beneficiary is Big Labor. Workers have long had to petition franchisees to form a union. Under Mr. Griffin's law, they can leap-frog their direct managers to corporate headquarters, which are more vulnerable to political pressure and less sensitive to local markets.

To recap: The NLRB has made a decision that upends decades of legal practice; workers and employers will be harmed by the decision, while labor bosses and trial lawyers stand to benefit. Just another day at the office for the Obama NLRB.

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Kline Statement on NLRB Joint Employer Decision

2014/07/29

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement after National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Richard Griffin determined McDonald’s Corp. and its franchisees are “joint employers”:

This decision is detached from reality. While the board is considering this very issue, the general counsel is trying to rewrite the franchise model workers, employers, and consumers have known for decades. This is yet another activist decision from the general counsel's office. Big Labor has scored once again at the expense of workers and employers. Let’s hope wiser heads prevail and this absurd decision is rejected.

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House Advances Bipartisan Legislation to Support Youth Victims of Sex Trafficking

2014/07/25

The House of Representatives today approved the final bill in a series of legislative reforms aimed at strengthening support for youth who are victims of sex trafficking. The proposed bills would improve identification and assessment of child sex trafficking victims and enhance existing services for runaway and homeless youth.

“We have a moral obligation to do all we can to serve children who are victims of sex trafficking,” said Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN). “No victim should be denied critical support because of outdated policies or fall through the cracks of a child welfare system. The legislation passed by the House will fix these flaws and strengthen our response to this national crisis. I want to thank Representatives Bass, Heck, and Beatty for helping to lead this important, bipartisan effort.”

Each year an estimated 300,000 children become victims of sex trafficking. Many of these children were once involved in a state child welfare system, yet their experience with sexual exploitation may go undetected. The House-passed bipartisan legislation would enhance support services for victims and improve the child welfare response to trafficking:

  • Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act. Introduced by Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA), John Kline (R-MN), Tom Marino (R-PA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), and Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the legislation (H.R. 5081) will improve practices within state child welfare systems to identify, assess, and document sex trafficking victims. H.R. 5081 passed the House by a vote of 399 to 0 on Friday, July 25.
                  
  • Enhancing Services for Runaway and Homeless Victims of Youth Trafficking Act. Introduced by Reps. Joe Heck (R-NV), John Kline (R-MN), and Bobby Scott (D-VA), the legislation (H.R. 5076) will improve support provided specifically to runaway and homeless youth who are victims of trafficking. H.R. 5076 passed the House by voice vote on Wednesday, July 23.

The House also passed earlier this week H.R. 5111, legislation introduced by Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH) that would add the term “child sex trafficking” to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline reporting areas to reinforce that these children are victims, not criminals. H.R. 5111 passed the House by a vote of 409 to 0 on Thursday, July 24. 

To learn more about the legislative proposals, click here.

To watch Chairman Kline’s floor remarks on H.R. 5076, click here

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Kline Applauds Passage of Higher Ed Bill to Improve Student Financial Counseling

2014/07/24

The House of Representatives today approved bipartisan legislation that would improve financial counseling support for college students and their parents. Passed by a vote of 405 to 11, the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act (H.R. 4984) is the third in a series of bills passed by the House to strengthen the nation’s higher education system.

Authored by Representative Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and cosponsored by Reps. Richard Hudson (R-NC) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act:

  • Ensures both students and parents who participate in a federal loan program receive interactive counseling each year that reflects their individual borrowing situation.
                                                                                                
  • Informs low-income students about the terms and conditions of the Pell Grant program through annual counseling that will be provided to all grant recipients. 
                                                                                              
  • Directs the secretary of education to maintain and disseminate a consumer-tested, online counseling tool institutions can use to provide annual loan counseling, exit counseling, and annual Pell Grant counseling.

Earlier this week, the House also passed with overwhelming bipartisan support legislation to spur innovation and strengthen transparency in higher education. Speaking of the progress being made to reauthorize the Higher Education ActEducation and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) said:

The House continues to make strong, bipartisan progress toward strengthening our nation’s higher education system. The legislation advanced today will help students and families make smart choices about paying for a college education. I want to thank Representatives Guthrie, Hudson, and Bonamici for their bipartisan leadership on this important legislation. By working across the aisle, we can help make a difference right now in the lives of students and families. I encourage the Senate to follow our lead and look forward to continuing this bipartisan effort in the months ahead.

To learn more about H.R. 4984, click here.

To learn more about the effort to reform the Higher Education Act, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/highered/.

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Kline Statement: H.R. 4984, the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act

2014/07/24

Every family knows the cost of pursuing a higher education is out of control. It’s felt intensely each and every day by countless Americans; by parents who worry how they will put their kids through college; by students who fear they will be left with a pile of debt and no job prospects; by working men and women who hope a degree will let them reach the next rung on the economic ladder.

We know that solutions to the college cost crisis must ultimately come from states and institutions. But there are things Congress can do right now to keep the dream of a postsecondary education within reach.

Helping students find the right institution is one way we can make a difference. Yesterday the House passed with strong bipartisan support the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act. The legislation will arm students with the best information available in a format that is easy to understand, information that includes key facts such as an institution’s costs, completion rates, and student loan debt.

Students and families currently face a tsunami of information that is mostly confusing, conflicting, and unnecessary. The bill streamlines the information and how it is delivered, enabling students to be smart shoppers in the college marketplace.

However, picking an institution is only half the challenge. Families then have to figure out how to pay for it, and far too many are unprepared to make those tough decisions. Some students choose loans and debt when other assistance in the form of grants and scholarships are readily available. And those that do opt for student loans often have no real concept of what they’re getting into or what it means for their future.

Clearly current policies promoting financial literacy are coming up short. That is why I am pleased to support the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act. The bipartisan legislation includes a series of reforms that will help students and families make wise financial decisions about their postsecondary education.

For example, the bill ensures borrowers – both students and parents – receive annual counseling that reflects their personal situations and requires consent each year before receiving a federal loan. The legislation also makes sure low-income individuals who rely on Pell Grants are informed about the terms and conditions of their grant.

The bill also delivers more robust counseling upon graduation, requiring that information on a borrower’s loan balance and anticipated monthly payments be provided. Finally, the legislation directs the Secretary of Education to maintain a consumer-tested, online counseling tool that will help institutions put this important information into the hands of those who need it.

This legislation is part of a broader effort to strengthen our nation’s higher education. Neither this bill nor the bills passed earlier this week are a silver bullet to challenges we face. However, by working together, we can begin to make a difference in the lives of students and families. That is precisely what the House is doing.

I want to thank the bipartisan authors of the legislation, Representatives Brett Guthrie, Richard Hudson, and Suzanne Bonamici. I urge my colleagues to support the bill and reserve the balance of my time.

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Walberg Statement: Hearing on Improving the Federal Wage and Hour Regulatory Structure

2014/07/23

For more than 75 years, the Fair Labor Standards Act has provided America’s workforce with crucial federal wage and hour protections. Every day the vast majority of employers do their part to ensure workers enjoy these vital protections. Unfortunately, that is becoming an increasingly difficult challenge.

The current rules and regulations surrounding the law are exceptionally complex and outdated. Too often a maze of confusing regulatory requirements promotes the interests of trial lawyers, rather than working families. A report issued by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office reveals a broken regulatory structure that fosters unnecessary and costly litigation.

According to the report, “The number of FLSA lawsuits filed nationwide in federal district courts has increased substantially, with most of this increase occurring in the last decade.” The GAO report continues, “Since 1991, the number of FLSA lawsuits filed has increased by 514 percent, with a total of 8,148 FLSA lawsuits filed in fiscal year 2012.” A more than 500 percent increase in litigation during the last two decades; clearly something isn’t right.

You would think employers are engaged in some coordinated national conspiracy to deny workers their rights. The truth is the vast majority of employers want to do the right thing and follow the law, but too often they unknowingly step into a regulatory trap. Even the Department of Labor has run afoul of wage and hour regulations and they are responsible for writing the rules and enforcing the law.

As litigation has increased, the number of guidance documents issued by the department has sharply declined. Between 2001 and 2009, the department released an average of 37 guidance documents each year. Yet in the last three years, the Obama administration has issued a total of seven – just seven during the last three years.

As the GAO notes, improving guidance “could increase the efficiency and effectiveness of [the department’s] efforts to help employers voluntarily comply with the law.” What’s the harm in assisting employers in understanding their legal responsibilities? Why wouldn’t we want to help employers understand their obligations, so they can stop spending time inside a courtroom and instead invest their resources into growing a successful business and creating jobs?

We’ve heard a lot in recent months and years about executive authority. We are told this is supposed to be a so-called year of action. Too often these actions stretch the limits of the law and even our Constitution. Yet when it comes to using a pen and phone to help employers understand a complex and confusing regulatory scheme, the Department of Labor can’t be bothered.

Earlier this year, the president issued an executive memorandum directing the secretary of labor to revise federal wage and hour regulations. There is obviously some agreement the rules are outdated and need to be improved. At that time, Chairman Kline and I said that if the president was beginning a sincere attempt to modernize current regulations, then the committee would support such an effort.

In fact, we hope we can be a partner in that effort and today’s hearing should certainly inform that work. We need responsible change that will bring these rules into the 21st century, while also safeguarding worker protections. The committee stands ready to assist, but more can be done to help employers comply with the law. The department has a job to do and we hope this government accountability report will encourage the agency to get to work.

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Kline Statement: H.R. 3136, the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act

2014/07/23

Across the country, millions of college students are getting ready to start the school year. They will soon say goodbye to family and friends and pursue their dream of a postsecondary education. Unfortunately, many Americans are struggling to turn that dream into reality.

The higher education system we know today is too costly, too bureaucratic, and outdated. Some are having a hard time fitting the traditional college experience into a busy lifestyle that already includes work, family, or both. Others are graduating with a pile of debt and no job prospects.

A college degree can open the door to a bright and prosperous future, yet too often obstacles stand in the way. Ultimately states and institutions must provide the answers students and families need, but Congress has a role to play as well.

First and foremost, we need to continue promoting policies that will get this economy moving again, so every college graduate who wants a job can find a job. We can also adopt commonsense reforms that will improve our higher education system.

Today the House will begin to do just that. We have an opportunity right now to advance reforms that will support innovation and empower students to make informed decisions about their college careers. H.R. 3136 is the first step in that effort.

The bipartisan Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act will allow institutions to expand an innovative approach to higher education, known as competency-based education.

This model of education defines a set of skills for a field of work and then measures student progress in acquiring those skills. Once a student demonstrates a level of skill or competency, he or she can move to the next step in the academic program.

Instead of awarding a student credit hours for time spent in class, competency-based education allows a student to learn at a pace tailored to his or her specific needs. If you’re a single mom, you may need more time to complete your degree while juggling the demands of work and kids. Or if you’re a dad out of a job with a family to support, four years sitting in a classroom is time you do not have.

Competency-based education holds tremendous promise. It allows students to earn a degree in less time and even at a lower cost than in a traditional education setting. Yet it is difficult for institutions to expand this innovative model under a system that values time over learning.

H.R. 3136 will help us move in a different direction. The legislation directs the secretary of education to authorize a number of demonstration projects to test and strengthen competency-based education.

Among other provisions, the legislation requires the secretary to focus on programs that are designed to reduce costs and the time it takes to earn a degree. The bill requires a thorough evaluation of each demonstration project so policymakers learn which programs demonstrate success and what specific roadblocks are standing in the way.

This is a good bill that will help make a difference in the lives of students and families. I want to thank the bipartisan authors of the legislation, Representatives Matt Salmon, Jared Polis, and Susan Brooks. I urge my colleagues to support the bill and reserve the balance of my time.

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Kline Statement: H.R. 5076, the Enhancing Services for Runaway and Homeless Victims of Youth Trafficking Act

2014/07/23

Each year an estimated 300,000 innocent children fall victim to sex trafficking right here in the United States. The victims can be homeless or runaway youth; others are simply taken from their parents in the blink of an eye. The victims’ families are our neighbors, friends, and loved ones.

As a father of two and grandfather of four, for me it is impossible to fathom the pain and suffering they must feel, knowing their son or daughter is trapped in a modern-day slave trade filled with darkness and hopelessness. While we will never fully comprehend the grief these families are forced to bear, we can as a nation fight this heinous crime with every tool available.

There are heroic efforts underway right now to locate victims of youth sex trafficking and return them to their families. Last week, the Education and the Workforce Committee had an opportunity to hear from John Ryan, head of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The center plays a vital role in a national effort to protect vulnerable youth, leading a partnership among law enforcement, government agencies, and private ventures like Honeywell, Google, and Lifetouch.

In my home state of Minnesota, the center has helped resolve cases involving 1,699 endangered runaways and 373 family abductions. The center’s 24-hour CyberTipline has provided law enforcement more than two million leads of child sexual exploitation.

The center and its staff provide an invaluable service to families; they stand on the front lines of this critical battle each and every day. Despite these and other achievements, we know more can be done to protect our most vulnerable youth.

Right now many kids are falling through the cracks of child welfare systems. Often they are not properly identified as sex trafficking victims when they enter the system and are then lost in the shuffle once they are in state custody. And too often runaway and homeless youth who are victims of sex trafficking do not receive the special help they need.

That is why I strongly support this legislation, which will enhance existing services for runaway and homeless youth. I am also proud to support legislation we will consider in just a few moments that will improve how state child welfare systems identify and respond to victims of youth sex trafficking. Finally, we will also consider legislation that ensures victims are properly identified when reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children CyberTipline.

We have to do more to address this national crisis. The bills the House is considering today move our country in the right direction. I am humbled to help lead this bipartisan effort and urge my colleagues to support the legislation.

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Video Release: Kline Urges Support for Victims of Youth Trafficking

2014/07/23

The House of Representatives today debated bipartisan legislation to strengthen support for victims of youth sex trafficking. The proposals would enhance existing aid for runaway and homeless youth and improve identification and assessment of child sex trafficking victims. House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) discussed the urgent need to assist victims of youth sex trafficking: 

 

Each year an estimated 300,000 innocent children fall victim to sex trafficking right here in the United States. The victims can be homeless or runaway youth; others are simply taken from their parents in the blink of an eye. The victims’ families are our neighbors, friends, and loved ones.

As a father of two and grandfather of four, for me it is impossible to fathom the pain and suffering they must feel, knowing their son or daughter is trapped in a modern-day slave trade filled with darkness and hopelessness. While we will never fully comprehend the grief these families are forced to bear, we can as a nation fight this heinous crime with every tool available.

To read Chairman Kline’s full remarks, click here.

To learn more about bipartisan efforts to strengthen support for victims of youth sex trafficking, click here.

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“Improving the Federal Wage and Hour Regulatory Structure”

2014/07/15


"Protecting America’s Youth: An Update from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children"

2014/07/07


H.R. 3136, "Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act of 2013"

2014/07/01


H.R. 4984, "Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act"

2014/07/01


H.R. 4983, "Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act"

2014/07/01


“How Data Mining Threatens Student Privacy”

2014/06/24

Joint Hearing: Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education and the Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies. Read More

Full Committee meeting to assign recently elected Members to subcommittees

2014/06/17


“What Should Workers and Employers Expect Next From the National Labor Relations Board?”

2014/06/17


“The Regulatory and Enforcement Priorities of the EEOC: Examining the Concerns of Stakeholders"

2014/06/03


“Big Labor on College Campuses: Examining the Consequences of Unionizing Student Athletes”

2014/04/01


There is no media available for this committee.

Contact Information

2181 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-4527
Fax 202-225-9571
edworkforce.house.gov


Membership

Louis Barletta

PENNSYLVANIA's 11th DISTRICT

Susan Brooks

INDIANA's 5th DISTRICT

Larry Bucshon

INDIANA's 8th DISTRICT

Scott DesJarlais

TENNESSEE's 4th DISTRICT

Virginia Foxx

NORTH CAROLINA's 5th DISTRICT

Trey Gowdy

SOUTH CAROLINA's 4th DISTRICT

Brett Guthrie

KENTUCKY's 2nd DISTRICT

Joe Heck

NEVADA's 3rd DISTRICT

Richard Hudson

NORTH CAROLINA's 8th DISTRICT

Duncan Hunter

CALIFORNIA's 50th DISTRICT

John Kline

MINNESOTA's 2nd DISTRICT

Kenny Marchant

TEXAS' 24th DISTRICT

Buck McKeon

CALIFORNIA's 25th DISTRICT

Luke Messer

INDIANA's 6th DISTRICT

Thomas Petri

WISCONSIN's 6th DISTRICT

Tom Price

GEORGIA's 6th DISTRICT

Phil Roe

TENNESSEE's 1st DISTRICT

Todd Rokita

INDIANA's 4th DISTRICT

Matt Salmon

ARIZONA's 5th DISTRICT

Glenn Thompson

PENNSYLVANIA's 5th DISTRICT

Tim Walberg

MICHIGAN's 7th DISTRICT

Joe Wilson

SOUTH CAROLINA's 2nd DISTRICT