Contact: Press Office (202) 226-9440
Dear Colleague: Former Education Secretary: Access to Higher Education Will Spur Economic Recovery


Dear Colleague:

With nearly 15 million Americans unemployed and looking for work, we should be doing all we can to help job-seekers get the skills, training, and credentials they need to re-enter the workforce. Unfortunately, regulations proposed by the U.S. Department of Education threaten to reduce postsecondary options for students by restricting access to student aid at certain institutions. Rather than denying students the full array of educational options, the Department should focus on transparency and accountability to ensure students and taxpayers are well served by our investments in higher education.

We urge you to read the following op-ed, penned by former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, which recently appeared in The Washington Post. Secretary Spellings warns about the harmful consequences of the administration’s controversial “gainful employment” proposal, noting, “Efforts to restrict access to a full range of education providers undermine our shared goals of raising graduation rates and increasing affordability.” Limiting postsecondary options will only serve to hamper economic recovery and undermine efforts to increase America’s competitiveness.


John Kline
Senior Republican
Committee on Education and Labor                                                                                                          

Brett Guthrie
Senior Republican
Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness

Making college work
By Margaret Spellings
Sunday, September 26, 2010; A25

This month, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) wrote a column ["A better deal on for-profit colleges," Washington Forum] excoriating for-profit postsecondary education. As chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Harkin should be taking a broader view of the challenges facing U.S. higher education. This includes considering how to achieve President Obama's goal of America having the highest college graduation rate in the world by 2020; Harkin should be among those leading a national dialogue on how to improve college access for all students -- especially those most in need.

Five years ago, as secretary of education, I appointed a bipartisan Commission on the Future of Higher Education and charged it with crafting a plan to address the critical issues of accessibility, affordability and accountability. The commission heard from dozens of experts and many members of the public and then offered bold recommendations to dramatically improve access to college and raise college completion rates for millions of Americans.

I embraced the proposals, which included calls for increased aid for low-income students, robust accountability and transparency at institutions, and a renewed focus on innovation and quality. I worked to advance these ideas with policymakers and leaders in higher education.

To read more, click here.