Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Secretary of Education Speaks: Is Our Children Learning?

The Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed both carry news today of Education Sec'y Margaret Spellings' comments on the big-ass final report (download here) by the Commission on the Future of Higher Education. She didn't sound too encouraging on the commission's best recommendation--that the buying power of the maximum Pell Grant be raised to 70% of the average state university tuition, approximately the 1970s buying power. She said Bush has called for increases in the Pell Grant, which in fact has been flat-funded for the past 5 years.

She was warmer on the also good recommendations to simplify the financial aid application process, although careful to say that cutting more subsidies to corporate lenders--oh, sorry, "reviewing and streamlining the entire federal system of student financial aid" is up to Congress.
And she engaged in what Inside Higher Ed called "higher-ed bashing" over the many recommendations for measurement, comprehensive student tracking, and money tied to accountability, suggesting that any college that doesn't want its students ear-tagged is operating from "fear" of scrutiny.

I have no doubt that there are lots of ways colleges can and should save money, nor that they could improve accountability. How much of the cost increases come from the vast expansion in colleges' missions over the past 30 years, the need to add new technologies? How is it that productivity has increased so much everywhere in our economy except for health care and education?

But you're not going to get improved results in our education system from a corporate downsizing mentality. The Bush Administration's record over the past six years should raise some suspicion that they know the true meaning of the word efficiency and can even recognize competence, let alone measure it.

UPDATE: Rep George Miller sez:

"The Bush administration and Republican-controlled Congress, far from addressing the college cost crisis, have actually made it worse. Earlier this year they cut $12 billion out of the federal student aid programs, pushing college further out of reach for American families. Nor have they done anything to boost need-based scholarships for low- and moderate-income students. The Pell Grant scholarship has been frozen for four years, and it is worth over $900 less, in inflation-adjusted terms, than it was 30 years ago. For these reasons, it is hard to take the Bush administration's sudden commitment to college access and affordability seriously.
"Democrats believe that we must act immediately to put college back within reach of all Americans. We have introduced legislation to lower college costs by cutting interest rates in half on college loans for students and parents in the most need. It is time for a new direction for America so that every qualified student who wants a good college education can afford to get one."


3 comments:

Xhevahir said...

How is it that productivity has increased so much everywhere in our economy except for health care and education?

That's the wrong question to be asking, as this woman here can tell you.

Geo said...

Are you Kidding? Could the Secretary of Education be referring to Is Or Children rather than Are Our Children? Our is this one generated by you?

100Student said...

Hello,

I recently published an article on the dangers and benefits of student loans and other forms of college financial aid – here is a quote from it, in case you are interested:
Student loans repayment can be a real nightmare without adopting some strategies that would help the new graduates to organize their social and financial life. Here are some strategies they can use to do this:
- An additional part-time job;
- Freelancing is another option (meaning that they can do particular pieces of work for different organisations, without working all the time for a single organisation);
- They should try to keep their living expenses as low as possible (live in a smaller apartment, live with a roommate to share some of the expenses, find an apartment that is closer to the job, to eliminate the extra-expenses for transport etc.);
- To apply for forbearance (this is an immediate solution for hard times when the new graduate is in impossibility to re-pay the amount of money and the need for student loan consolidation becomes apparent; it is a temporary period, when the graduate can postpone or delay his or her re-payments until a later time on a federal or direct loan after the beginning of the re-payment, and when the student doesn’t qualify for deferral). The forbearance must be applied through the lenders of the loans.
- To consolidate the payments.
If you feel this help, please drop by my website for additional information, such as federal student loans information or additional resources on private student loans .

Regards,

Michael