Senate Fails to Move Modified Jobs Bill
Senate Committee Approves ESEA Reauthorization Bill
Coalition Urges No More Cuts to Title VI Funding
Defense Department Issues FAQ on Tuition Assistance Program Memorandum of Understanding
IN BRIEF: ED Asked to Examine Relationship Between Law School Tuition and Earnings Prospects; College Board to Release Annual Reports on College Pricing and Student Aid; Plan Now to Attend Sessions for CAOs at ACE's Annual Meeting
Congress continued chipping away at its fall agenda this week, with action on President Obama's jobs bill and reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, among other items.
The Senate yesterday failed to move forward a $35 billion jobs bill which would direct federal funds to states to prevent layoffs of teachers, police officers and firefighters. This was an attempt to break into pieces and pass elements of President Obama's much larger $447 billion jobs bill that the Senate declined to consider last week.
The president's proposal to make community colleges eligible for infrastructure and facilities funding was not included in this stripped-down bill. This provision is rumored to be part of a second jobs bill Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will likely push as another standalone measure, but we do not yet know if or when such a measure will be brought to the Senate floor.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee yesterday approved a measure to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Although a K-12 measure, the implications of this legislation for teacher preparation are of great interest to us. In particular, we are watching this debate closely because of concern about possible amendments dealing with teacher preparation and qualification.
The committee adopted an amendment proposed by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) which we strongly oppose that would create "Education Achievement Training Academies," which are effectively charter schools to prepare teachers. Although the academies would not be obligated to meet the same requirements as traditional colleges and universities, they would be allowed to award certificates treated as equivalent to master's degrees. In addition, the amendment makes clear states cannot compel these academies to obtain accreditation. (Click here to see a letter about the proposal we signed onto in July).
In a pointed remark about his view of postsecondary teacher preparation programs, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), the bill's main sponsor, compared them to a Holiday Inn, with the money only being used for conferences and lunches rather than effective programs. He hopes to move ESEA to the Senate floor before Thanksgiving.
ACE, in conjunction with our association colleagues, is stepping up efforts to prevent Congress from making further cuts to the Department of Education's (ED) international and foreign language programs.
As you may recall, funding for Title VI International Education programs was cut $50 million (or 40 percent) in the FY 2011 spending bill. Now, as Congress works on FY 2012 spending bills (for the fiscal year that started on Oct. 1, 2011), it is possible that further reductions are in the offing.
While the Senate proposes to fund these programs evenly, albeit at the reduced funding level approved last year, the House draft makes an additional $9 million cut, completely eliminating the Fulbright-Hays programs as well as the Institute for International Public Policy. We have intensified our efforts to persuade Congress to maintain these programs at the FY 2011 level of $75.7 million provided in the Senate bill.
One part of this effort is a letter sent this week to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leadership by a coalition of education groups, including ACE. The letter asks that funding be maintained for ED's international and foreign language programs. I encourage each of you who are recipients of Title VI and Fulbright-Hays funding, particularly those of you from districts or states represented on the House or Senate Appropriations Committees, to contact your members on behalf of these programs. You can use our letter as a basis for talking points.
In March of this year, the Department of Defense (DoD) issued new requirements for continued participation in the tuition assistance (TA) program, which provides up to $4,500 in tuition costs for eligible service members.
Under the new rules, institutions will be required to sign a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) prior to Jan. 1, 2012, in order to maintain their eligibility to participate in the TA program next year.
Despite a strong interest in continuing to assist service members through the TA program, several institutions have raised concerns with the MOU's provisions. For the past several weeks, ACE has led an effort to address these issues with DoD to make it possible for institutions to sign the MOU. Today, DoD issued a document providing important clarifications regarding the MOU provisions. More information on the MOU can be found at www.dodmou.com.
You have likely seen some of the numerous reports in the media about the reliability of law school data on graduates' job prospects. In the latest development on this issue, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) have asked the Education Department's inspector general (IG) to examine law schools to better understand certain trends related to the growth of enrollments and costs, budgets, graduate debt, bar exam passage rates and employment rates. The IG's resulting report will inform Congress as it considers whether and how to reform the Higher Education Act (HEA). Congress is currently laying groundwork for reauthorizing HEA, which expires in 2013.
The College Board will release the results of its annual reports, Trends in College Pricing and Trends in Student Aid, next Wednesday, Oct. 26. These reports from the College Board usually generate wide media attention, so you might want to prepare talking points in preparation for interviews, as well as examples of ways your campus has cut costs and enhanced quality. While the data is not expected to contain any major surprises, we do believe the recent spate of bad economic news could generate intense media interest. The College Board will post press materials and both reports on its website at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Oct. 26. At that time you can also read my full statement on the reports on the ACE website.
After overwhelming calls from chief academic officers (CAOs) for more sessions tailored to their interests and opportunities to meet with presidents and chancellors, we have planned two exclusive events at ACE's 94th Annual Meeting, Ahead of the Curve, scheduled for March 10-13, 2012, in Los Angeles, CA. We are especially pleased to announce that SAGE Publications Inc. will sponsor a luncheon for CAOs on Sunday, March 12. Following the luncheon, CAOs will join presidents and chancellors for a 90-minute session on accreditation. To learn more about the program and register for the Annual Meeting visit www.aceannualmeeting.org.
Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE