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President to President

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President to President
Molly Corbett Broad's weekly email newsletter to higher education leaders.

President to President, April 16-20, 2012

Vol. 13, No. 13

  • Teacher Prep Negotiated Rulemaking Grinds to a Halt
  • Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Would Expand Clery Act
  • ACE's Higher Education Attainment Commission Continues Work: Join the Conversation on Twitter
  • NACIQI Releases Accreditation Recommendations
  • IN BRIEF: ACE Leadership Reception at AACC Convention; ACE Requests Clarification on Self-Funded Student Health Insurance Plans; College Cost & Tuition Reports; HED's Women's Leadership Program Issues RFAs; CIGE China Webinar Next Week

Congress returned to Washington Monday from a two-week spring break and launched into a flurry of activity. After weeks of claiming the Senate would not release a budget for FY 2013, Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) on Tuesday offered 2010's Bowles-Simpson plan, produced by the co-chairs of President Obama's bipartisan Fiscal Commission, as his party's budget blueprint. Republicans responded with a plan of their own, authored by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA). Neither proposal is expected to go anywhere anytime soon. Meanwhile, the House passed legislation to cut small business taxes and a transportation bill that also mandates approval of a controversial oil pipeline, ignoring veto threats and the likelihood that both measures will languish in the Senate. The coming months before the November election promise more of the same, so we're expecting a dramatic—if not very productive—summer and fall.

Over the past several weeks, much attention has been focused on the Department of Education's (ED) most recent round of negotiated rulemaking that would overhaul regulations pertaining to teacher preparation programs.

Specifically, the department attempted to require states to put in place value-added metrics that would tie student performance on standardized testing to teacher preparation without considering any other factors, like poverty, school district resources or parental involvement. These measurements were intended to result in the rating of programs and potentially the loss of Title IV funds for future students enrolled in programs with lower ratings.

After much back and forth, ED terminated the talks and ruled out the possibility of further discussions. This means the department will now go it alone, drafting regulations that will be published in the Federal Register and open to public comment. While the exact timing is unclear, the regulations must be finalized by Nov. 1.

We, along with a large number of higher education associations, are gravely concerned about the implementation of value-added metrics, which would open the door to creating a No Child Left Behind for higher education in which program quality would be linked to the receipt of Title IV aid. We are working with policymakers and our colleague associations to ensure we are well positioned to provide comment from a wide range of institutions when the draft regulations are issued.

I will contact you when the draft regulations are published so that you can submit comments if you choose.

The Senate this week began debate on a bill (S. 1925) to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, a measure that could mean a significant expansion of the Clery Act.

The Clery Act, formally known as the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act, requires colleges and universities to keep records and report annually on the nature, date, time and place of crimes occurring on campus.

The bill, which focuses primarily on federal programs to prevent domestic violence and rape, would require institutions to track and report claims of dating violence and stalking on campus. While we strongly support the intent of these provisions, we are concerned the bill would make Clery compliance more challenging while not improving campus safety in any significant way.

A companion bill (H.R. 4271) has been introduced in the House, but timing for consideration is unclear.

As you may recall, in October ACE convened a panel of higher education leaders to chart a course to significantly boost educational attainment in the United States.

The Higher Education Attainment Commission, which is comprised of members nominated by each of the six presidential higher education associations and chaired by E. Gordon Gee, president of The Ohio State University, has met three times to discuss pressing issues facing our nation and our institutions.

Gordon recently blogged about our challenges, and I encourage you to take the time to read his post. He has also kicked off a robust discussion on Twitter about these issues, and many interesting ideas have been shared by students, alumni and parents. I urge you to add your thoughts and engage your own networks in this conversation.

To join the conversation on Twitter, be sure to use the hashtag #higheredfuture. This tag will ensure your thoughts are visible to all who are following this important conversation. Additionally, if you write about these issues on other platforms like a blog or Facebook, be sure to share those links so that we can include them in our communications efforts.

The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, the panel that advises the education secretary on accrediting agencies, last Friday approved a set of recommendations on revamping the accreditation process in the next reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), which expires at the end of 2013.

While an early draft of the recommendations suggested removing accreditation as a condition of an institution's students receiving federal financial aid, the final plan did not include this provision, which would have been the most far-reaching revision. Suggested changes include setting minimum consumer protection standards for states and urging the department to "encourage a dialogue" about sector-based accreditation.

While these are just recommendations, we are concerned they could lead to even greater oversight of the accreditation process by federal and state governments and increased costs for everyone involved. We will be working with Congress to shape the next HEA reauthorization bill and so will have a chance to revisit these proposals next year.

IN BRIEF

I would like to invite those of you who will be in Orlando for the American Association of Community Colleges' (AACC) Annual Convention to attend a reception for presidents and chancellors on Sunday, April 22. This presidents-only event will celebrate the vital role community colleges play in helping our country achieve its higher education goals. For full details, please contact Joe Syrowik at jsyrowik@acenet.edu.

ACE has asked the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to clarify how self-funded student health insurance plans may be recognized as providing "minimal essential coverage" under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the health care reform bill signed into law in 2010. In a letter to HHS sent Wednesday, ACE and a group of higher education associations said it is essential the department provide guidance to the small number of colleges and universities that offer coverage for students under self-funded plans so students are not penalized for failing to satisfy the so-called individual mandate to buy health care coverage.

ACE has released two new publications designed to offer data and insight into the complex issue of cost of higher education. Putting College Costs Into Context gives a brief overview on the cost of attending college and how much financial aid is available for students. It also looks at why college prices are rising and what higher education institutions are doing to contain such increases. The Anatomy of College Tuition, by Robert B. Archibald and David H. Feldman, explores an economic framework for the forces driving college tuition.

Higher Education for Development (HED), in cooperation with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has issued Requests for Applications for women's leadership higher education partnerships in Armenia, Rwanda and Paraguay. The awards are part of USAID's new Women's Leadership Program, which supports national and local development goals that promote gender equality and female empowerment.

ACE's Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement is beginning its new series, International Briefs for Higher Education Leaders, this month with a webinar on higher education in China. The webinar is scheduled for Thursday, April 26, from 2:00-3:30 p.m. EDT. For more information, contact Elizabeth O'Herrin at eoherrin@acenet.edu.

Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE