[Paleopsych] CHE: President Plans No Price Controls or Strict Accountability Rules for Colleges, New Education Secretary Says in Interview

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President Plans No Price Controls or Strict Accountability Rules for
Colleges, New Education Secretary Says in Interview
News bulletin from the Chronicle of Higher Education, 5.2.7

    The Bush administration has no plans to impose price controls on
    college tuition or to extend strict accountability measures to
    postsecondary institutions, the new U.S. secretary of education,
    Margaret Spellings, told The Chronicle in an exclusive interview on

    In a wide-ranging discussion at the end of her first official week on
    the job, Ms. Spellings also said that states and college governing
    boards, not the federal government, should be responsible for ensuring
    that campuses foster a variety of political and religious beliefs.

    The comments were the first extended remarks Ms. Spellings has made
    about higher-education issues beyond her confirmation hearing last
    month. As the president's domestic-policy adviser in his first term,
    Ms. Spellings was one of the chief architects of the No Child Left
    Behind Act, which in 2002 introduced nationwide standards and
    mandatory testing to elementary and secondary schools. Some college
    officials have feared that she would use the law as a template for
    similar measures in higher education ([63]The Chronicle, November 26,

    But the secretary said on Friday that the administration's efforts in
    higher education over the next four years would focus mostly on
    providing better information to parents and students. As the parent of
    a high-school senior, the secretary said, she has experienced
    firsthand how difficult the college-search process can be for

    "It's a hard process to navigate ... where your kid ought to go to
    college," Ms. Spellings said. "I think we can do better."

    Without accessible and easy-to-use government sources of information
    about colleges and financial-aid options, the secretary said, families
    have come to "rely on, for right or wrong, the U.S. News & World
    Report, the Princeton Review, and some of these other sorts of
    rankings, which are fine and good, but I'm not sure there is an
    understanding about what all goes into that."

    While Ms. Spellings was not specific about the range of information
    that should be made available to the public, she said, as an example,
    that parents should be able to find out easily how long it will take
    their child to graduate from a particular institution, how much it
    will cost, and what are the chances their child will still be enrolled
    after two years.

    She did not give any details about how the administration would
    require colleges to provide such information or on how the government
    would disseminate what it collects to the public.

    "We're very early in this whole process," Ms. Spellings said. "The
    first thing you would want to do is start at the beginning and say
    what do you want to know that we don't know, what do we know. That's
    where we ought to start."

    Better information would particularly be helpful, she said, when it
    comes to tuition. Last year Rep. Howard P. (Buck) McKeon, the
    California Republican who heads the principal subcommittee on higher
    education in the U.S. House of Representatives, dropped a proposal
    that would have penalized colleges that raised their prices too high
    by preventing them from participating in some federal student-aid
    programs. Some Republicans and Democrats said his proposal would have
    amounted to price controls in higher education.

    Ms. Spellings said that in putting together its proposals for the
    reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, the federal law that
    governs most federal student aid programs, the administration
    "wouldn't start with price controls."

    "This is where information can play a real part," she said. "What are
    the costs, how fast are they escalating, what are the reasons."

    So far, Ms. Spellings said, she has been encouraged by the reaction of
    colleges to the administration's call for more and better information
    for families. "I think they want to be able to tell their story
    better," she said. "They are served when they can do that with real
    data and no anecdotes."

    When asked if college campuses have a liberal bias, Ms. Spellings
    said, "Some institutions do and some institutions don't." But she said
    the federal government should not get involved in policing professors'
    politics, even after incidents like the controversy at the University
    of Colorado at Boulder in which a faculty member compared the victims
    of the September 11 attacks to Nazis (see [64]a related article).

    "That's not something the federal government is going to get into,"
    she said. "It's a local-control thing. That's something for states and
    governing boards and academic faculties to see about. I hope they do
    worry about those things."

    More from the interview with Secretary Spellings will appear in next
    week's issue of The Chronicle.

      * [65]Republicans in U.S. House Introduce Bill to Renew Higher
        Education Act That Mirrors Last Year's (2/3/2005)
      * [66]Congress Should Not Impose Cost Controls on Colleges, Senate
        Republican Says (2/2/2005)
      * [67]Spellings Takes Office as Education Secretary; Stroup Says
        She'll Stay On in Top Higher-Education Post (2/1/2005)
      * [68]President's Choice for Education Secretary Wins Unanimous
        Approval From Senate Panel (1/14/2005)
      * [69]A New Face for Education in a Second Bush Term (11/26/2004)
      * [70]Worried on the Right and the Left (7/9/2004)
      * [71]Plan to Punish Big Increases in Tuition Is Dropped (3/12/2004)
      * [72]Will Congress Require Colleges to Grade Themselves? (4/4/2003)


   63. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i14/14a01901.htm
   64. http://chronicle.com/daily/2005/02/2005020709n.htm
   65. http://chronicle.com/daily/2005/02/2005020301n.htm
   66. http://chronicle.com/daily/2005/02/2005020202n.htm
   67. http://chronicle.com/daily/2005/02/2005020102n.htm
   68. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i19/19a02601.htm
   69. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i14/14a01901.htm
   70. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v50/i44/44a02101.htm
   71. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v50/i27/27a00101.htm
   72. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v49/i30/30a02701.htm

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