Yesterday it became official that Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) will assume the chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP).
He and Senator Kennedy were not only colleagues, but close friends and, in most respects, shared a similar worldview.
Harkin served in the House from 1975-85 and has served in the Senate since 1985. He has most recently chaired the Committee on Agriculture and the Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Education (full bio). Senator Harkin has been a champion of labor and the disabled. It is generally believed that, with Harkin at the helm, full funding of IDEA at the 40% commitment may well become a reality. Like his predecessor, he believes that the No Child Left Behind Act needs to be funded, but also will be open to retooling the law. His Iowa background, with its strong belief in local control (Iowa was the last state to adopt state-wide standards), may temper his views on at least some of the positions that the Obama administration will likely bring to the table when they get to reauthorization.
This Education Week article on Sen. Harkin will also provide insight.