Debate over the D.C. voucher bill, which currently hangs in the balance in the U.S. Senate after passing the House, reveals opponents' line of attack on choice. The Senate has already approved changes suggested by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein requiring that voucher students take the same annual tests as their public-school peers and that their teachers have bachelor's degrees. But that's not enough for the National Education Association, which issued an alert that "the 'fixes' were like putting lipstick on a pig." The teachers union aims to stop the choice program completely, and Democrats are at least temporarily doing so by trying to strap private schools that admit voucher students with more requirements.
The House education committee passed a bill last month that seeks to establish greater balance in federally subsidized international area studies programs at American universities. Middle Eastern and African studies centers have presented one-sided perspectives hostile to U.S. foreign policy, and personnel at some centers have boycotted programs that prepare students for national security careers. The bill passed on Sept. 25, the same day that Edward Said, father of the academic theory that propagated the views dominating area studies today, died (see p. 8).
The U.S. Department of Education awarded a $35 million federal grant to the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence to continue developing alternative teacher-certification routes. The American Board emphasizes subject matter expertise over pedagogical style and is designed especially for mid-career transitions to teaching, such as for retiring military personnel.