It's far from clear, at this relatively early stage, whether the Secretary of Education's Commission on the Future of Higher Education will go the legislative route to pursue whatever changes its members desire. But if the panel chooses to do so, it will almost certainly need the help of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the former U.S. education secretary and University of Tennessee president who heads the Senate's education subcommittee.
On Thursday, President Bush and a bevy of government officials -- including the secretaries of state, education and defense -- announced a wide ranging plan to enhance the foreign language skills of American students.
It is supposed to be a boon for colleges and students, the one major provision in federal legislation to reduce the budget deficit that makes it easier for higher education to swallow the unpalatable parts of the bill that cut benefits to students. After all, the proposed program would provide $3.75 billion in grant aid for students, a rare injection of new federal funds into higher education at a time of fiscal austerity and budget slashing.