|Number 33, November 14, 2006|
The November 7 elections placed the Democrats in the majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate, an outcome that is likely to bring some changes in the direction of legislation concerning higher education. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will be chaired by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA). The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will be chaired by Representative George Miller (D-CA). The House Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness will be chaired by Representative Rob Andrews (D-NJ) and Representative Dale Kildee (D-MI) will chair the House Subcommittee on Education Reform.
Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act: What
The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) is unlikely to occur in the lame duck session of Congress scheduled to begin the week of November 13. We expect HEA to be reintroduced in the next session convening in January 2007. The Senate is likely to introduce a reauthorization of the HEA that is similar to the current S. 1614, the result of both parties in the Senate working closely and cooperatively on education issues. There will be some additional focus on funding for higher education.
The House is likely to introduce a reauthorization of the HEA that is significantly different from the current H.R. 609. Representative Miller has said that he will focus on increasing Pell Grants and reducing interest rates on student loans. We do not expect the change of congressional majorities to result in a change of focus on accountability and transparency in accreditation.
As previously reported, the current HEA expires on June 30, 2007.
The Secretary of Education's Commission on the
Future of Higher Education
The U.S. Department of Education has completed its four regional hearings on the Commission Report in preparation for negotiated rule-making. These hearings were dominated by students discussing student loans, Pell Grants, affordability and repayment proposals. The accreditation community provided a number of speakers at each of the hearings. Most witnesses testifying about accreditation requested that negotiated rule-making be delayed until after the reauthorization of HEA is passed in the next session of Congress. CHEA President Judith Eaton testified in Washington, DC and Jan Friis, Vice President for Government Affairs, testified in Orlando, FL.
Whether accreditation will be included in the negotiated rulemaking scheduled to begin in December is not yet clear. The staff of the Department attending the hearings indicate that the Department is committed the rule-making on the Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) and the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (SMART). Staff will review the hearing testimony and determine whether to convene the other rule-making committees initially proposed in the Federal Register, including accreditation. The results of the election on November 7 may have an impact on the Department's decision here: Both the House and Senate Democrats and the Senate Republicans have objected to the current round of rule-making for anything other than the Grants programs. Click here for testimony..
November 29, 2006 Department of Education
Secretary of Education Spellings is convening an invitational "Accreditation Forum" of the accrediting community and other key stakeholder (employers, researchers, the public and institutions) to address the recommendations on accreditation in the Report of the Secretary's Commission on the Future of Higher Education. The invitation list has not yet been released by the Department. CHEA President Judith Eaton has been invited and will attend. The meeting is open to the public. For additional information contact Archie Cubarrubia in the Department at Archie.Cubarrubia@ed.gov.
The Forum agenda will include discussions on performance outcomes and accreditation, measuring and reporting student achievement and defining input and process standards. The goal of the meeting is to identify strategies to implement the recommendations of the Commission Report. It is not clear whether this Forum is tied to negotiated rule-making.
National Advisory Committee on Institutional
Quality and Integrity
The Department announced in the Federal Register on November 13, 2006 that the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) will hold a two-hour discussion among the NACIQI members regarding the report of the Secretary's Commission on the Future of Higher Education. The discussion is scheduled for Monday, December 4, 2006 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
This Update will inform interested parties on developments in the reauthorization
of the Higher Education Act (HEA). Please direct any inquiries or comments
to Jan Friis at firstname.lastname@example.org or to (202) 955-6126.