Why would Senate hearings for public universities be canceled right before the Governor announces his budget? Lots of focus (too much) on Penn State here. Wonder how PASSHE’s Chancellor responded?
Monthly Archives: February 2012
I don’t think anybody thinks it’s a good idea to raise tuition and make college unaffordable for students. However, President Obama’s announcement in the State of the Union the other week, and hearings happening in Senate committees already, suggest that the President doesn’t understand, or care about, the difference between tuition increases based on increasing costs, and increases based on collapsing state support. He needs to hear that message loud and clear.
Notice in this article from this morning’s (Feb 3) Inside Higher Education that nobody says a word about state support for public higher ed.
Senators Focus on Tuition Costs
February 3, 2012 – 3:00am
WASHINGTON — Members of the U.S. Senate’s education panel got a firsthand look Thursday at the president’s new higher education agenda, offering both bipartisan support and bipartisan expressions of concern.
At a hearing on college affordability before the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, lawmakers from both parties expressed agreement with President Obama’s assertion that tuition growth must be curtailed to maintain access to higher education, suggesting that college pricing is likely to be an election-year priority. But Democrats and Republicans alike tried unsuccessfully to pry loose more details about the president’s plan, and picked apart some aspects already made clear.
Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter testified but divulged no secrets about Obama’s Race to the Top-esque proposal for higher education, which would pay institutions that find ways to control tuition growth and increase value for students in much the same way the government rewarded states that improved their K-12 curriculums. Kanter said more information about funding for Obama’s plan will be released with the president’s 2013 budget proposal on Feb. 13.
While consensus emerged that college tuition can’t continue to increase unabated, opinions varied about the proper role of the federal government in stunting that growth. Sen. Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina, said the free market can help determine what tuition prices are sustainable.
“Higher education is a great example of how the market place works,” he said. When tuition gets too expensive, he said, “people choose to go somewhere else.” (The hearing also featured testimony from officials of traditional two-year and four-year colleges talking about their efforts at innovation, and from advocates for alternatives such as Western Governors University.)
While those open-market principles are important to remember, Burr said, Congress sometimes has an important function in addressing college issues. “Where it’s appropriate for us to have a role,” he said, “I hope we play it.”
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat, pushed for brisk action and clarity about the more specific steps the administration wants legislators to take. She said students are essentially taking out a mortgage to pay for college and aren’t always seeing a return on that investment.
“They don’t know whether they’re going to have equity or an albatross of debt,” she said. “We can’t keep this going.”
Wyoming Sen. Michael B. Enzi, the committee’s senior Republican, said that efforts to expand grants for low-income students have failed to stop tuition growth and prove that legislation can accomplish only so much.
“If we’ve learned anything in recent years,” he said, “it’s that the government cannot solve this problem.”
But Obama says that government-supported reform is imperative. He introduced his agenda during last month’s State of the Union address, telling colleges they were “on notice” and that they risked losing taxpayer support if they couldn’t control their costs and increase their educational value.
Perhaps sensing a popular cause to champion with an election looming, senators in both parties seemed eager to continue discussions on how to hold down college prices. Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, promised more discussion on the subject.
“This,” he said, ” is the first of many hearings.”
Senator Dinniman has announced the following:
Public education has come under increasing attack in Harrisburg and it is time for the citizens of Chester and Montgomery counties to stand up and protect our schools both here and throughout Pennsylvania.
We are asking all those who value public education to come together for a meeting on Thursday, February 9, 2012, at 7 pm at Downingtown East High School, 50 Devon Drive (just off Route 113) in Exton.
Why February 9? Because the governor will be giving his annual budget address to the state legislature on February 7 and we need to respond. All indications are that this address will contain cuts that will be devastating to public education at all levels. We must come together to organize and to protect funding for early childhood education, basic education and public higher education. We can’t afford to wait until June and allow an anti-education budget and agenda to pass.
It is our hope to create an ongoing Coalition for Public Education that will stand strong as we face this year’s state budget and other challenges to public education to come.
We also plan to find ways to increase parental involvement in helping every child succeed. Parental involvement is the key to academic success in schools around the world. The future of our children and our nation depends on developing educational excellence in every school and at all levels of education.
Last year, more than a thousand people attended a rally in support of public education at the Chester County Courthouse and recently thousands of citizens joined in a write-in vote movement in the West Chester School Board election. Please join us to keep the momentum going forward as we face the upcoming state budget.
Our collective voice needs to be heard and your participation is crucial. Please let us know if you can attend the Feb 9 meeting by contacting Deb Woolson at my office at (610) 692-2112 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you cannot attend but are interested in becoming involved in the planned Coalition for Public Education, also let us know.
Our children are depending on you!