It's not often that National Collegiate Athletic Association officials get dragged before Congress and come out smelling like a rose. But that's what happened Thursday at a House hearing on the use of anabolic steroids in sports, and the NCAA has Major League Baseball to thank.
Members of two House of Representatives Energy and Commerce subcommittees raked baseball officials over the coals at the hearing, condemning the league repeatedly for doing too little, and too late, to uncover steroid use and to punish those found to have used the muscle-building drugs.
The percentage of high school sophomores who plan to earn a bachelor's degree or higher reached 72 percent in 2002, up from 59 percent in 1990 and 41 percent in 1980.
The data are from an Education Department report released Thursday that focuses on the aspirations and skills of high school sophomores.
In the prevailing climate of recent Congresses, dominated by the push for belt tightening and the shift of power to the states, college officials and other beneficiaries of federal funds tend to shudder when lawmakers use the words "streamline" or "consolidate" to refer to key programs. Too often, the officials fear, the words "eliminate" or "reduce" will follow at some later date.
The Education Department's proposal to start charging a variable interest rate instead of a fixed, low rate to borrowers who combine multiple federal student loans into one is a "viable option for reducing federal costs" in student loan programs, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in a February letter to Republican lawmakers, who had requested the review.