[Paleopsych] CHE: Education Department Convenes New Commission to Develop 'National Strategy'for Higher Education

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Education Department Convenes New Commission to Develop 'National Strategy'
for Higher Education
News bulletin from the Chronicle of Higher Education, 5.9.20

[So does this sort of national planning strike anyone as an example of at least 
the beginnings of friendly fascism?]


    The U.S. Education Department has created a commission to devise a
    "comprehensive national strategy" on higher education's future,
    Education Secretary Margaret Spellings announced on Monday in a speech
    at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The panel is to
    focus on rising enrollments, declining affordability, and colleges'
    role in America's global competitiveness.

    "Now is the time to have a national conversation on our goals for
    higher education," Ms. Spellings said. "I'm here to start that

    The federal government accounts for one-third of all spending on
    higher education, compared with just 10 percent of spending on
    elementary and secondary schools. But the federal government exercises
    more control over those schools than it does over colleges and
    universities, which have long enjoyed relative autonomy.

    In announcing the commission, the education secretary stressed that
    she was "not advocating for a bigger role for the federal government
    in higher education," but said that it is "time to examine how we can
    get the most out of our national investment."

    Critics said it's absurd to suggest that the "national strategy" will
    not increase federal intrusion into academe.

    "If they're going to have a national strategy, who is going to
    implement it other than the federal government?" asked Neal P.
    McCluskey, a policy analyst at the Center for Educational Freedom at
    the Cato Institute, a libertarian group. "My fear is that they're
    going to duplicate what they have in K-12 in higher education."

    Ms. Spellings provided few details on the commission in her speech,
    saying only that it would work to ensure that college is accessible to
    all Americans, and that students are prepared to compete in the global
    economy. Congress is tackling similar issues as part of its work to
    extend the Higher Education Act, but some say its efforts amount to
    little more than "tinkering."

    "We've just been rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic," said
    David A. Longanecker, executive director of the Western Interstate
    Commission for Higher Education and an Education Department official
    under President Bill Clinton. "I think the secretary's effort provides
    an opportunity to look in front of the ship."

    Ms. Spellings, whose eldest daughter is a freshman in college, said
    the commission would also explore ways to ensure that parents and
    students get the information they need to compare colleges and

    Speaking from personal experience, Ms. Spellings said she found
    "plenty" of information on dining-hall food, intramural sports, and
    campus architecture, but she had a harder time finding out "which
    courses to take, how long it takes the average student to graduate,
    and whether it's a better deal to graduate from a less-expensive state
    school in six years or a private school in four."

    "I learned just how confusing the college process can be for parents,"
    she said. "And I'm the secretary of education!"

    The head of the 19-member commission is Charles Miller, a former
    chairman of the University of Texas System's Board of Regents.

    Ten other members have ties to higher education, including four
    presidents emeritus: James J. Duderstadt of the University of Michigan
    at Ann Arbor, Arthur J. Rothkopf of Lafayette College, Louis W.
    Sullivan of the Morehouse School of Medicine, and Charles M. Vest of
    the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    The commission also includes three faculty members: Arturo Madrid, a
    professor of humanities at Trinity University, in Texas; Richard
    Vedder, a professor of economics at Ohio State University and an
    adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; and Robert
    Zemsky, a professor of education and chairman and chief executive of
    the Learning Alliance for Higher Education at the University of

    But the panel does not include any leaders of teacher unions, an
    omission that troubles at least one union.

    In a letter sent to Secretary Spellings on Monday, the American
    Federation of Teachers asked that the commission be expanded to
    include "the perspective of people who work on the front lines with
    students, day in and day out."

    Other members of the commission are:

      * Carol Bartz, chairman of the board, Autodesk Inc.
      * Nicholas Donofrio, executive vice president for innovation and
        technolgy, International Business Machines Corporation.
      * Gerri Elliott, corporate vice president, worldwide public sector,
        Microsoft Corporation.
      * Jonathan Grayer, chairman and chief executive, Kaplan Inc.
      * Kati Haycock, director, the Education Trust.
      * James B. Hunt, Jr. chairman, Hunt Institute for Educational Policy
        and Leadership, and a former governor of North Carolina.
      * Robert Mendenhall, president, Western Governors University.
      * Charlene R. Nunley, president, Montgomery College.
      * Richard Stephens, senior vice president, human resources and
        administration, Boeing Company.
      * Sara Martinez Tucker, president and chief executive, Hispanic
        Scholarship Fund.
      * David Ward, president, American Council on Education.

    Mr. Miller said the commission would hold its first meeting in
    Washington in mid-October. That meeting will be followed by four
    others around the country. The panel must submit its final report to
    the secretary by August 1, 2006.

    Background articles from The Chronicle:
      * [71]Notable Provisions in the Senate Version of the Higher
        Education Act (9/23/2005)
      * [72]Senate Committee Approves a Higher-Education Bill Favorable to
        Students and Traditional Colleges (9/16/2005)
      * [73]House Committee Approves Bill to Extend Higher Education Act
      * [74]Plan to Track Students Steps Into Political Quicksand
      * [75]Accountability Panel Says Government Should Collect More Data
        on Students (3/18/2005)
      * [76]The Education Secretary's Knowledge Campaign (2/18/2005)

      * [77]Colleges Must Get Used to Collaborating With Congress
      * [78]A Whining View of Higher Education (6/17/2005)
      * [79]Higher Education Isn't Meeting the Public's Needs (10/15/2004)


   71. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v52/i05/05a03301.htm
   72. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v52/i04/04a03601.htm
   73. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i48/48a02102.htm
   74. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i35/35a00101.htm
   75. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i28/28a02501.htm
   76. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i24/24a02701.htm
   77. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i45/45b01601.htm
   78. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i41/41b01101.htm
   79. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i08/08b00601.htm

E-mail me if you have problems getting the referenced articles.

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