In late September, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan went a long way in dismantling core provisions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). In a letter that he sent to state secretaries of education, Secretary Duncan announced that states could apply for ten different waivers from NCLB. One of the waivers allows states to opt out of a core provision of NCLB that requires that 100% of students be proficient in Math and Reading by 2014. The Obama Administration and many education policy experts agree that this arbitrary deadline is largely impracticable at this point and does little to incentivize states to adopt rigorous curriculum standards.
Tensions between AT&T and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are rising over the proposed merger of Dallas-based AT&T and the German parent corporation of T-Mobile, Deutsche Telekom. After FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced on November 22nd that the agency would move to block the merger, AT&T and T-Mobile requested to withdraw their application for merger from the FCC on Thanksgiving, November 24th. While it is still unclear if the FCC was obligated to permit AT&T and T-Mobile to withdraw their application without prejudice, meaning that they will be able to re-file at any time, the FCC allowed it on Tuesday, November 29th. At the same time, the FCC released a lengthy staff memorandum outlining the numerous factors that persuaded them to move to block the merger.
“Let Women Die” – this is how many pro-choice organizations refer to House bill 358, which passed on October 13, 2011, and its counterpart, S. 877, which will soon be voted on in the Senate. Introduced by Congressman Joseph Pitts (R-PA), this bill is officially known as the Protect Life Act. Supporters of this bill claim that its passage will ensure that no federal money is used to fund abortions and related services, except in cases of rape, incest, and where the life of the mother is in danger. A similar piece of legislation was introduced by Congressman Pitts in 2009, when the Stupak-Pitts amendment was added to the Affordable Health Care for America Act (AHCAA).
Last summer’s debt ceiling debate brought to light a few observations about the 112th Congress. The prolonged, acrimonious debate revealed just how divided and unproductive Congress has become. Instead of finding a solution, Congress appeared willing to allow the unthinkable, America defaulting on its debt, to happen. The debate also revealed, however, that, when under tremendous pressure, Congress can put political posturing aside and find bipartisan solutions to America’s problems, even if those solutions come mere hours before a deadline.
How do you interpret the voice of the people? It depends on how you count the votes, or at least how you draw the lines. Gerrymandering is a contentious issue, and for good reason: it cuts to the core of our political process. The strategic redrawing of political boundaries skews the voice of the people and raises significant voters’ rights questions. That’s what is at stake in the Texas redistricting case, Perry v. Perez, which the United States Supreme Court recently agreed to hear.