This article was originally published by The Federalist on February 13, 2019. Read the full article here.
Sen. Lamar Alexander laid out his agenda for the Higher Education Act (HEA), which is overdue for reauthorization, in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute on February 4. Alexander’s ambitions are modest. The senator focused on reforms to simplify student aid and streamline student loans—worthwhile endeavors, but paltry compared to the problems of politicization and trivialization in higher education.
We need structural changes to the HEA, pushing higher education towards intellectual freedom and academic rigor. We also need meaningful accreditation reform and deeper changes to the federal student aid system. My colleagues and I at the National Association of Scholars laid out such a blueprint, the “Freedom to Learn Amendments,” two years ago, when Congress first professed to be serious about reauthorizing HEA. If Congress is unwilling to make meaningful reforms to higher education, then it shouldn’t reauthorize the HEA yet.
Alexander believes his agenda is palatable to both Democrats and Republicans. As the Republican chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Alexander emphasized the various bipartisan bills in circulation that propose measures similar to his HEA blueprint.
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