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<< Return to SBL Forum Archive Federal Commission on the Future of Higher Education Final Report

SBL Colleagues in Higher Education,

The Commission on the Future of Higher Education, under the leadership of the Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, has completed its analysis of the future higher-education needs of students, parents, educators, and the business community and expects to release its final report in September 2006. The commission website has the report from 9 August as well as information about the commission at:http://www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/hiedfuture/index.html. Spelling explains:

I formed the Commission to spark a national debate and examine the critical issues of access, affordability, accountability, quality and innovation in order to determine whether our colleges and universities are adequately preparing students for the competitive 21st century workforce. (http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2006/08/08102006.html)

The commission chairperson, Charles Miller, was a successful portfolio manager and entrepreneur in the investment management industry before becoming Chairman of the Education Policy Center of Texas and later the Chairman of the Board of Regents for The University of Texas System (appointed by President Bush in February 1999). A complete list of names and affiliations of other commission members is available at: http://www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/hiedfuture/members.html.

One of the highest profile members of the commission from among university leaders, David Ward, President of the American Council on Education, refused to sign the final draft of the report. A full statement explaining his reasoning can be found at http://www.acenet.edu/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Press_Releases2&CONTENTID=17767&TEMPLATE=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm. In addition, the Chronicle of Higher Education has reported on this commission throughout its existence. Should you wish to read additional commentary, a bibliography of relevant Chronicle articles is available at: http://chronicle.com//indepth/comission/.

SBL is an affiliate of both the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), both of whom have sent suggestions to the commission. AAC&U has now issued a statement of concern about the commission's report (http://www.aacu.org/About/statements/SpellingsFinalDraft.cfm). The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) have also issued a letter to the commission complimenting the commission's openness to discussion but also raising significant concerns (http://www.naicu.edu/HEA/NAICULtr-CommissionDraft3.pdf). Finally, the Association of American Universities (AAU) issued a statement suggesting that the discussion needs to continue and noting certain failures of the report, especially in regard to understanding the enormous range of institutions that comprise higher education, a note sounded by many observers. The full AAU statement can be read at: http://www.aau.edu/education/Spellings_Commision_8-10-06.pdf. Those of you on faculties in the United States will want to keep informed about the issues raised in the report and the continuing dialogue that emerges. While the report does not directly address biblical, theological, and religious issues, it does strike at the heart of a concern all of us hold about the quality of higher education. Few would disagree that we must be engaged in a continuing, critical debate over the issues of access, affordability, accountability, quality, and innovation in order to determine whether U.S. colleges and universities are adequately preparing students. As a matter of fact, this concern is one that exists among higher education colleagues across the globe and within our membership. While the solutions may engender some divisions, the concern is singular.

Cordially,
Kent Harold Richards

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Citation: Kent Harold Richards, " Federal Commission on the Future of Higher Education Final Report," SBL Forum , n.p. [cited June 2006]. Online:http://sbl-site.org/Article.aspx?ArticleID=562

 
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