Higher Education Reform and College Opportunity

higher education reform

Senator Mike Lee recently introduced legislation that would expand college opportunity for low-income and middle-class families by providing for new alternatives to the federal accreditation system. The Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act would allow all 50 states and the District of Columbia to develop their own systems of accrediting educational institutions, curricula, apprenticeships, programs, and even individual courses.  All accredited programs would be eligible to receive federal student loan money.

Our higher education system – and especially the federal policies that govern access to it – is failing the two-thirds of Americans who never get a B.A., and the large minority of Americans who never set foot on a college campus.

Those Americans need access to skills that current colleges aren’t teaching, at prices that four-year residential institutions can’t afford, on timelines the academic calendar can’t accommodate. And the lower a student’s income, the greater the need.

In today’s customizable world, students should be able to put their transcripts together a la carte – on-campus and online, in classrooms and offices, with traditional semester courses and alternative scenarios like competency testing – and assistance should follow them at every stop along the way.

We don’t need to dump our higher education system – we just need to open it up to more students and teachers.

So instead of eliminating our current accreditation regime, my bill would simply allow 50 new ones to compete with it, and each other – with enough quality control to protect students and taxpayers, and enough flexibility to incentivize experimentation and innovation.

The point of higher education policy should be to make it easier and more affordable for good teachers to teach, willing students to learn, the economy to grow, and civil society to flourish. State-based accreditation reform can help on all four fronts.

higher education reform

Higher Education Reform

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I need your feedback.  Our higher education system has traditionally been a gateway to middle class security and economic opportunity.  While it's true that college has never been for everyone, as we transition from an industrial economy to an information and service-based economy, post-secondary eduction of some kind or other is no longer a luxury for the select few.  Higher education and college opportunity need to be at least an option on the table for just about everyone who graduates from high school.

I recently introduced a proposal that will remove many of the barriers that are preventing Americans of all education levels from participating in our higher education system.

While the proposal I am currently working on focuses primarily on our higher education system, I recognize that our entire education system is intricately connected.  I am confident that with your feedback, the proposals I am developing will be stronger.  If you have ideas on how we can improve our education system, I hope you will join this dialogue.

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August Town Hall Schedule

Senator Lee will be holding several town hall meetings during the month of August. Visit the town hall page to find a meeting being held in your area.