Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Dog Days

It's that time again, "the Dog Days of Summer." I don't know where that phrase came from, but I remember it from my childhood as a way to describe the long, languishing, hot days when dogs would lie on their backs in the middle of the lawn and doze away the day. Otherwise known as August. In the capitol city we are anticipating the hiatus that will come when Congress finally succumbs to the pressure to get out of town with work either done, partly done, or undone. The city will languish and those of us still here will dress down and saunter to work. So, as we approach the lax month, where are we?

Its hard to say where we are, as most of the key legislation for education has moved forward in one body of Congress, but not in the other. For instance, the House is busy moving forward on ther reauthorization of NCLB, but the Senate has yet to act. The Senate has passed its version of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, but the House has yet to act. In the Senate version there is more money for students in the financial aid package, and there is a clarification of accrediation rules. On the latter, institutions are responsible for establishing what student success looks like in relation to their mission, and the accrediting agencies need to monitor that. Also, the institutions must be clear about their policies for transfer of credit from other institutions. The heavy hand of control has been reduced to the appropriate role of oversight. While this looks good, we need to wait to see what the House does.

The pressure, of course, is to try to get both the major pieces of education legislation, reauthorization of NCLB and HEA, passed before the end of the Congressional year. Much good work has gone into the reauthorization process, but if it is not passed and becomes law, we will have another continuing resolution, which leaves the old law in place.

The same is true for funding humanities issues. The House has passed its version with an increase for NEH and funding for Archives and Public Records. The Senate HELP committee has passed increased funding, but the full Senate has not voted, yet. Here is the full update from the National Humanities Alliance.

The good news is that both bodies are working to move legislation forward, and they feel the heat of summer's breath on their necks. With that, we hope the dog days of summer will provide the respite and lassitude to prepare us for the needed burst of energy to make the fall productive.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

It just so happens that I asked a question about the origin of the phrase "Dog Days" on my Facebook page, last week. Here's the response I got from one of my friends:

"The Star sirius rose in the hottest time of the year in Ancient Rome, so the Romans called it the days of the dog because they thought the star caused the heat. "