With higher education’s future now in play at the federal level, parents and students should pay attention to what the U.S. Education Department does with its new report.
The “final recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Higher Education”:http://www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/hiedfuture/reports/0809-draft.pdf came out last week.
Colleges should hold down costs and be held accountable for what students learn, the commission said. The whole process by which institutions of higher education are accredited needs to be overhauled.
Will that mean students will have to pass exit exams to earn college diplomas? Does it mean the federal government will get into the business of licensing colleges?
The report is due on U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spelling’s desk in mid-September. But already department officials are scheduling regional meetings to discuss making changes to the college accreditation process—by writing regulations rather than going through Congress.
Consultant Roger Martin of Mamaroneck, who works with college faculty and officials, says people are worried that the one-size-fits-all approach the Bush administration took toward public K-12 education in No Child Left Behind will be forced on public and private colleges, which have very diverse missions and student bodies.
Martin, a historian and president emeritus of Randolph Macon College in Virginia, said there are other things in the report that are controversial. The amount of data USEd wants colleges to collect about every student has people suspicious, he said.
“I’m not sure some of the recommendations are the best way to go,” he said today. “On the other hand clearly the whole price issue is one that needs to be dealt with in some way. Also, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re saying weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re the best educational system in the world. The question is, can the people who come out read and write and think analytically?”