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Souder and the House Education committee

Congressman Mark Souder's resignation this morning is going to draw plenty of comment about hypocrisy, but I'll keep the topic here to education.

Souder was a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, so Indiana will be losing a seat on the panel with his departure. I have a great deal of respect for the congressman's perspective on education and the federal government's role in it. As with most issues, he has considered every aspect of the topic and offers a long and detailed explanation of what he believes Congress's role should be, as he did the last time I interviewed him about committee business, after Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified on ESEA reauthorization.

The government's role, in Souder's view, is a limited one, of course. I appreciated the fact that he recognizes that the federal government has a responsibility when it comes to ensuring services for special education and for ELL students. His views on national standards and curriculum are consistent with his ultra-conservative positions.

I probably find the most agreement with Souder on early childhood eduation -- specifically, Head Start. He is a huge proponent of protecting and encouraging the parent council aspect of the federal program, which involves local Head Start parents in the governance of the center. That's a key to the program's success and Souder's support for maintaining it is commendable.

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at kfrancisco@jg.net.

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