Marjorie Taylor Greene is a newly-elected Republican member of the House of Representatives from a deep-red district in Georgia, a supporter of Q'Anon—a fringe conspiracy theory group identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a domestic terrorism threat—and a leader in the emerging Republican Qaucus.
But, wait—there’s more! Greene will join the education committee with 10 of her novice colleagues, including Madison Cawthorn, the Hitler-curious lad from North Carolina last seen speaking at the rally that launched the January 6 assault on the Capitol. In fact, 11 of the 24 Republican seats on the education committee of the 117th Congress are rookies. Sure, new members have to be placed on committees, too. But, by contrast, only four of the 26 Democratic seats will be held by brand new members.
Folks, this is why we can’t have nice things in education.
The House Committee on Education and Labor is a standing committee, which means they consider, debate, and shape the vast majority of proposed bills concerned with education. This committee will tackle issues including, but not limited to:
Teacher Preparation and Quality
Science-based reading instruction and literacy programs
Early childhood and preschool programs, like Head Start
School lunch and nutrition programs
Programs for at-risk youth
School discipline and dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline
Civil rights in education
This committee will also oversee the finances of the Department of Education.
Although seniority doesn’t necessarily equate to competence, it is—or it should be—critical that good, rational, and competent people are sitting at the table where these important decisions about education are made, especially now, as the coronavirus pandemic shines a bright light on persistent and pervasive systemic inequities.
Education activists across the nation have some expectations for this new administration, as they demand better education and a brighter future for every child, and this committee will play an important role in that conversation. But allotting nearly half of a party’s committee’s seats to political newcomers tells us something about how much political know-how and muscle an issue warrants in the party’s overall agenda. What message does this send to educators, parents, students and advocates about where education ranks among the priorities of Republicans in Congress?
For me, this is a clear message on education from the House minority. And, coupled with dangerous character choices like Greene and Cawthorn, I'm more than a little concerned about the future of education policy. Our kids deserve better than Q'Anon on the House Education Committee.
Lisa Hollenbach is Senior Digital Manager for Education Post. Prior to joining Education Post, Lisa developed digital and content strategy for Teaching Channel. She served on the Bill and Melinda Gates Teacher Advisory Council from 2014-2017 and was active in the planning and execution of several Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers and Teaching (ECET2) convenings at both the regional and ...