"We ask for a system of shared responsibility with States and school districts," Harkin said of his bill, S. 1094. "I believe that we are entering an era in which the federal government can work in partnership with States to improve our nation's schools, while continuing to provide a backstop to avoid returning to old ways."
Also in the Senate, Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) proposed legislation awarding grants to encourage state and local educational agencies to increase their use of technology in the classroom. And Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) proposed a bill that would limit penalties for states that fail to maintain funding for educating students with disabilities.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) proposed a bill together on Tuesday that would streamline and simplify various federal education credits and turn them into a single $2,500 per year tax credit for the first four years of post-secondary education. Their bill would also save money by ending credits for taxpayers who aren't students or who attended school less than half time.
"Unfortunately, our current network of higher education tax incentives only complicates the pursuit of affordable education while also attracting costly abuse and fraud," Rubio said. "Our bill will replace this complex and burdensome tax system with a simple provision to assist eligible students, whether they are pursuing skills training or a university degree."
In the House, members proposed a bipartisan bill aimed at expanding grants for charter schools. The All Students Achieving through Reform (ALL-STAR) Act, from Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Tom Petri (R-Wis.), would provide incentives for states to lift caps on charter school growth and allow the Department of Education to award grants directly to charter schools that have a successful education record.
"All students should have access to high-quality schools where children can learn, grow, and develop skills that will help them succeed in college and the workforce," Polis said of his bill. "Across the country, high-quality public charter schools are demonstrating that all students can achieve at high levels."
Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation aimed at reducing and preventing the spread of fraudulent degrees, while Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) offered a bill aimed at creating new partnerships to boost graduation rates and prepare students for college.
Finally, Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) proposed a bill to provide death benefits for campus police officers.
The flurry of education bills comes as the House and Senate are working to pass legislation that would keep the interest rate on federally backed student loans as low as possible. The House has passed a bill linking the rate to Treasury rates, while the Senate this week will consider a bill extending the 3.4 percent interest rate for two more years, paid for by closing tax loopholes on companies.