DC Shuttle: White House Meeting with CEOs Spawns New Ed Grants … and Other Higher Ed News from Washington

Editor’s Note: Our DC Shuttle column has changed gates, so to speak. With frequent arrivals of higher ed news from our partner The New England Council, DC Shuttle will now appear in Newslink, rather than the Journal section, of  https://www.nebhe.org.

President Obama hosted an education roundtable on July 18 with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Domestic Policy Chair Melody Barnes and business leaders and CEOs. The meeting culminated in the announcement of several new initiatives, including $50 million from Bank of America to help underserved populations succeed in higher education in high-growth sectors, and $15 million from Microsoft to develop new classroom instruction technologies. America’s Promise Alliance, which represents 400 corporations, advocacy and nonprofit groups, is also launching an initiative to raise $50 million to raise high school graduation rates.

Senate HELP Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-IA) told critics and advocates of for-profit higher education that he is working to include military aid with total federal aid for the purposes of calculating the 90/10 rule. Under the rule, for-profit colleges are restricted from deriving more than 90% of their revenue from the federal government in order to be eligible for federal student aid programs. He also suggested that for-profit colleges are spending too much of their federal funds on advertising rather than instruction. “Should we be looking at how much federal money is being used for marketing?” he asked the panel of witnesses at the Thursday hearing. Several for-profit college presidents suggested that the focus should be on measuring student outcomes rather than how much money is spent on marketing. Senator Harkin praised the suggestion, and said that he “absolutely” intends to apply the standard to all colleges and not just the for-profit sector.

On Thursday, the Departments of Justice and Education announced the launch of a collaborative project to address “the disciplinary policies and practices that can push students out of school and into the justice system.” The initiative will bring federal, state, and local education officials together to collaborate on collecting research and developing guidelines for school discipline policies. The announcement came on the heels of a report from the Council of State Governments which found that more than one half of all Texas middle and high school students had been suspended or expelled at least once between the 7th and 12th grades.

From the New England Council’s Weekly Washington Report Higher Education Update, July 25, 2011. NEBHE is a member of the Council and will publish this column each week.

Founded in 1925, the New England Council is a nonpartisan alliance of businesses, academic and health institutions, and public and private organizations throughout New England formed to promote economic growth and a high quality of life in the New England region. The Council’s mission is to identify and support federal public policies and articulate the voice of its membership regionally and nationally on important issues facing New England. For more information, please visit www.newenglandcouncil.com.


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