Political differences over K-12 school choice approaches, instructional priorities and student gender came up again and again in far-reaching discussions at the first full House Education and Workforce Committee hearing of the 118th Congress on February 8th.

Titled ”American Education in Crisis,” the hearing also highlighted areas of agreement, including the need to strengthen college and career readiness, raise math and reading scores, and increase parental involvement in children’s education. Higher education discussions centered on student loan debt, access to career training programs, and workforce needs.

Continuing conversations from the last Congress concerning COVID-19-related student learning loss and how best to improve student outcomes, Republicans said schools need to make academic progress a priority. Democrats emphasized that while academics take top priority, schools should also focus on providing inclusive school climates and resources for student mental health wellness.

Both parties’ members agreed parental engagement in schools is important to student success, although they differed in specific approaches.

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