(From MInding the Campus):
By Thomas K. Lindsay
Ever since Ronald Reagan tried and failed to abolish the U.S. Department of Education, conservatives have found themselves in a quandary when it comes to reforming public higher education. Some continue to insist, rightly, that the Tenth Amendment places the power over education solely in the hands of the individual states. A different group, however, embraces efforts to improve higher education within the existing framework of federal entanglement. They reason that since taxpayers fund the federal government’s massive spending on higher education, we should use federal power to enhance affordability, quality, and access.
Former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings certainly fits in the latter category. In 2006, her Spellings Commission called for a larger federal presence to enhance affordability and access through increasing accountability and transparency. Spellings envisioned boosting the importance of student outcomes in the accreditation process, reconfiguring federal student aid to encourage lower tuitions, and implementing federal tracking of individual student performance.