Congressman-elect Dave Loebsack will be a member of the House Education Committee when congress convenes in January, and he’s ready to tackle the so-called “No Child Left Behind” law. Loebsack says he’s concerned the “standardized tests” which are to measure student progress are merely measuring students against one another and not showing whether students are learning what they need to learn.

“I’m concerned that No Child Left Behind has, in effect, penalized schools that are underperforming instead of helping them to achieve,” Loebsack says. Loebsack defeated long-time Republican Congressman Jim Leach in November to win Iowa’s second district seat.

What politicians serve as models for Loebsack? “I’ve always admired Tom Harkin,” Loebsack says. Loebsack first met Harkin in 1974 when Loebsack was a graduate student at Iowa State University and Harkin was running for congress. Loebsack is spending the holiday in Mount Vernon with his wife, her two kids and his two kids before taking off for Washington.

“The election was certainly the highlight of the year,” Loebsack says. “But now we’ve got to move forward and do the job that people elected us to do.” Loebsack has been a Cornell College political science professor. He’s been cleaning out his office this month and gave up his tenured position on the faculty. Loebsack got to visit the White House after the Election while he was in D.C. for sessions scheduled for incoming members of congress.

“I did not expect that at all — meeting with President Bush and Laura Bush and Vice President Cheney and (Bush advisor) Karl Rove and (out-going U.N. Ambassador) Josh Bolton,” Loebsack says. “I did not know that we were going to do that and it was a great experience.” Loebsack says he chatted with Bush about his daughter-in-law, who is currently serving in Iraq, and his step-son, who has done two tours there.