Federal policy

A Nation's Colleges at Risk

American higher education, long the envy of the world, faces such serious problems -- especially with graduation rates -- that its position is vulnerable, says a report being released today.

The report calls for the creation of new accountability systems in higher education to track problems and progress, and to help lawmakers focus necessary attention on weaknesses. At the same time, the report says that many current accountability systems do little good and end up wasting time and money.

Congress Sends a Signal

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.

Job Training Bill Advances

Measure would create new program for community colleges, though other institutions are eyeing the funds.

Credit Check

Rep. John Boehner told a group of college presidents Tuesday that members of Congress are tired of hearing from constituents who can't figure out why their children can't transfer credit from one institution to another.

"We hear about it nonstop," Boehner (R-Ohio) said. He said that both of his daughters were "caught up" in the issue, thinking that they were taking courses that would transfer -- only to find out that wasn't the case.

The Spellings Agenda

Margaret Spellings gave her first address to a college audience Monday, telling college presidents that they should work to provide better information about their institutions, and that they should back President Bush's budget plans.

Congress to Colleges: Bush Budget is DOA

Put a bunch of college officials in a room the week after the release of the federal budget proposal, and it's not hard to tell what it contained. Lots of money, lots of smiles (O.K., that doesn't happen a lot).

With a budget like last week's -- full of hundreds of millions of dollars in proposed cuts to programs that colleges hold dear -- the mood is one of uncertainty and frustration. And that was evident Monday at the National Legislative Summit put on annually by the Association of Community College Trustees and American Association of Community Colleges.

Middle Ground on Military Recruiting?

The Marines are back at Middlebury College -- recruiting this week for the first time in at least a decade. But before they could recruit, they had to agree to explain the military's policies that discriminate against gay people, and to answer questions about those policies at an open campus forum.

A Cutting Budget

President wants to eliminate many education programs -- and community colleges are particularly hard hit.

Rhetoric and Reality

For much of the last year, community colleges and the Bush administration have, symbolically, been dancing cheek to cheek. Given what's in the Bush administration's 2006 budget proposal, they may spend the next few months fighting toe to toe.

New Tools to Take On Diploma Mills

Regulating diploma mills is a little like herding cats.

The institutions, which offer fraudulent degrees in exchange for cash and little or no academic work, crop up overnight and disappear nearly as fast, when consumer complaints rise or law enforcement officials catch the scent. State and federal lawmakers yearn to crack down on these "colleges," but because they're hard to define and hard to nail down, there's often little they can do.

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