EducationWeek reported that Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), a major supporter of the Individuals with Disabilities Act and the American Disabilities Act, replaces the late Sen. Edward Kennedy as the chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees education spending. Harkin was a main player in the $100 billion stimulus for education earlier this year.
Harkin will have broad authority as Congress works on the reauthorization of IDEA and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Writes EdWeek:
That will likely mean much less of a disconnection between education policy and financing, said Jack Jennings, the president of the Center on Education Policy, a research and advocacy organization in Washington. “Most people don’t realize that once Congress passes a law, ... you have to go through a whole process again” to get the programs funded, said Mr. Jennings, a former longtime education aide to House Democrats.
Jennings added that Harkin's appointment "is very good for education."
According to EdWeek blogger Lisa Fine, this could mean IDEA is on the way towards full funding, as both Harkin and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) reintroduced legislation to fully fund special education.