Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Legislating graduation gap closure and more money for universities 

There's a move afoot in the new Higher Education Act bill to try to improve graduation rates among different racial groups. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscribers only, though it looks like it's largely drawn from this press release by Education committee chair John Boehner) the problem with the data may be that students are more often transferring schools -- the school the student went to first must count the student as a drop-out or non-completion, even if the student went to another school and earned a degree. This infroms some of the discussion we had about the Education Trust study on graduation rates. Calls for better tracking of students between schools would create data privacy concerns.

Boehner's press release also indicates that there may be a bill by the Democrats that would force states to increase funding for state universities and colleges lest they lose their No Child Left Behind funds (hey! I thought that was an unfunded mandate!).

H.R. 3519, authored by Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) and co-sponsored by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other top House Democrats, directs the U.S. Secretary of Education to punish states that reduce state spending on colleges and universities below the average annual amount spent in the last five years by withholding �any amount that would otherwise be available to the state for administrative expenses and costs under any federal education program.� (Sec. 4) State legislatures and governors that reduce state spending on higher education would be barred under H.R. 3519 from receiving administrative funds for NCLB, IDEA and other federal programs until they agreed to increase their funding for higher education. (Link to bill summary added)
It smells like price controls, it quacks like price controls.