Global education progress on Capitol Hill!

July 18, 2016
by Allison Grossman, Senior Legislative Associate

Last week was a remarkable week for global education on Capitol Hill. On Thursday, July 14, the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) considered and then passed the Education for All Act (H.R. 4481). That same day, a group of four bipartisan senators introduced a companion of the Education for All Act in the Senate (S. 3256).

Why are these actions such a big deal for global education?

Let’s look to the House first. For the last dozen years, a version of the Education for All Act has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), the champion for global education on Capitol Hill. RESULTS has been by Congresswoman Lowey’s side since the beginning. We have helped shape the bill and successfully utilized it to educate members of Congress about significant issues in global education, including building support for the Global Partnership for Education.

In all of those years, the bill had never been considered by the committee. But all of that changed last week. After its introduction by Congresswoman Lowey and Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA) in February of this year, the bill attracted a strong group of bipartisan cosponsors, including HFAC Chairman Ed Royce (D-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY). On Thursday, the bill was adopted by the committee en bloc, without opposition.

Passage out of HFAC is huge for the Education for All Act. Not only is it the first key step in getting to the House floor for a vote, but it is also significant in helping cement Congresswoman Lowey’s leadership and legacy on this issue, and for RESULTS advocates who have been behind her every step of the way. In her press release with Congressman Reichert celebrating the bill’s passage out of committee, Congressman Lowey said, “an education is the fundamental tool with which boys and girls are empowered to increase their economic potential, improve their health outcomes, provide for their families, address cultural biases, participate effectively in their communities, and ultimately defeat the root causes of extremism.”

Now, the Senate. The last time there was an Education for All Act in the Senate was six years ago, in 2010. But this year, with leadership from Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), the bill is back. Senator Durbin introduced S. 3256 along with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senator Edward Markey (D-MA), and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). The Senate version of the bill is nearly identical to the version passed by HFAC.

Where do we go from here?

In both chambers, it is imperative that the bills remain strongly bipartisan. Global education is an issue that enjoys support from both sides of the aisle, and the Education for All Act needs to reflect this support to congressional leadership as we look to advance the bills. With both chambers on recess until September, the next few weeks are an ideal opportunity to talk to strategic members of Congress about cosponsoring the Education for All Act in both the House and Senate. The House currently has 34 cosponsors, 23 of which are Democrats and 11 of which are Republicans. The Senate is just getting started. If you think your Representative or Senator would be good to approach about the Education for All act, please reach out to me ([email protected]) for strategy and materials to support your advocacy. And with brand new data revealing that 263 million children and youth still remain out of school worldwide, this work is more important than ever. 

But take a moment to celebrate these amazing accomplishments, a result of years of our collective advocacy to promote strong, effective U.S. support for global basic education. In an era of gridlock on Capitol Hill, the Education for All Act is showing what’s possible when we work together. 

p.s. Not sure what the Education for All Act does? Here’s a run-down of what the legislation calls for to strengthen the impact and accountability of U.S. investments:

  • Developing a comprehensive integrated U.S. strategy that improves educational opportunities and addresses key barriers to children’s school attendance, retention and completion;
  • Ensuring a continuum of education services for children affected by conflict and other emergencies;
  • Coordinating U.S. government efforts to efficiently and effectively manage resources;
  • Working with countries to strengthen systems in order to build long-term sustainability;
  • Engaging with key partners including other donors, civil society and multilateral global education initiatives, including the Global Partnership for Education, to leverage U.S. contributions to achieve a greater overall impact;
  • Requiring specific indicators and objectives with which to measure progress in improved access to quality basic education in developing countries; and
  • Improving the transparency and accountability of our basic education programs, ensuring taxpayer dollars have the most impact for children worldwide.

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