ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

Senators Embrace Higher Ed Reform Agenda

February 12, 2014 by Avi Snyder

Higher ed reform has come to Washington. One year ago, President Obama began to talk about accountability, transparency, and accreditation reform. Now, senators from across the political spectrum have raised the same banner.

Over at Minding the Campus, Richard Vedder has an article evaluating several reform proposals put forward by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). Two of Senator Rubio’s proposals warrant special praise. First, he has proposed, along with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act. This bill would significantly increase transparency in higher ed by improving the kind of data schools need to report in order to be eligible for federal funds. Such standards could easily lay the groundwork for the comprehensive alternative system proposed by ACTA president Anne Neal when she testified before the Congress.

Which brings us to Senator Rubio’s second initiative: his embrace of accreditation reform. As he said in a speech at Miami Dade College, “we have a broken accreditation system that favors established institutions while blocking out new, innovative and more affordable competitors.” Rubio called on Congress to create a system whereby non-traditional programs could receive accreditation without going through the traditional accreditation system. And he also spoke favorably of the accreditation reforms proposed by another senator, Republican Mike Lee of Utah.

Senator Lee has introduced the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity (HERO) Act. This bill would give states the authority to set up their own accreditation systems, which would be free to accredit “specialized programs, apprenticeships, professional certification classes, competency tests, and even individual courses.” This proposal dovetails nicely with the call of former Senator Hank Brown, head of ACTA’s Accreditation Reform Initiative, to rely more on the states in order to advance the goal of accreditation reform. Hopefully, such a plan could serve as a first step in the effort to de-link college accreditation from access to federal Title IV (student financial aid) funding.

It is long past time higher education reform got this kind of attention from Washington. Politicians from both parties are realizing that higher education is in crisis, and that only increased transparency and accountability can change it for the better. Bravo to Senators Rubio, Wyden, and Lee. We hope many more in Congress will join your fight.

Comments

Leave a Comment >

There are no comments for this article yet.

Let us know what you are thinking

FEATURED TOPICS

ACTA's take on:

News Roundup

The Consequences of the Government Shutdown for Higher Ed

Chronicle of Higher Education, Lindsay Ellis and Lily Jackson 

College Bloat Meets ‘The Blade’

Wall Street Journal, Tunku Varadarajan

College Trustees Must Protect Free Speech

Chronicle of Higher Education, Keith E. Whittington

Donations Keep Iowa Wesleyan Afloat

Education Dive, Natalie Schwartz

Signup to Receive ACTA’s Quarterly
Newsletter & Email Updates


Include information for trustees.

Search