Sen. Mike Lee on How To Improve Higher Education

We recently described an innovative bill introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) 100% that can change higher education as we know it for the better.  The ideas therein were developed largely in conjunction with the Heritage Foundation’s education policy analyst Lindsey Burke.

Today, The Federalist published an article by Sen. Lee, in which he describes why we should be exited about his bill, and when I say “we,” I mean every American.  

This legislation will certainly affect college students, struggling to pay off their bills, because it will make education more affordable.  It will change the higher education system so that the accreditation process is tailored to needs of students and those seeking to employ them, rather than the whims of federal government bureaucrats.

Taxpayers should be excited too, because this bill could mean we’re not forced to pick up the tab for student loans never paid back by unemployed college graduates.   Indeed, every American will benefit from living in a country where education is more affordable, because better education means economic opportunity and middle-class security.

Sen. Lee states:

However unintentionally, Washington is pricing most Americans out of the post-secondary opportunities that make the most sense for them, and plunging most of the rest deep into debt to pursue an increasingly nebulous credential.

Most progressives think ever-more taxpayer assistance will make up for any policy dysfunction. But we’ve tried that, and all we’ve done is inflate a bubble.

It seems to me the answer isn’t more funding or lower rates for existing Title IV programs. The answer is to make more kinds of students and more kinds of education eligible for them.

So last week, I introduced legislation to do just that.

He goes on:

The Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act would give states the power to create their own, alternative systems of accrediting Title IV-eligible higher education providers.

State participation would be totally voluntary, and would in no way interfere with the current system. State-based accreditation would augment, not replace, the current regime. (College presidents can rest assured that if they like their regional accreditor, they can keep it.)

But the state-based alternatives would not be limited to accrediting formal, degree-issuing “colleges.” They could additionally accredit specialized programs, apprenticeships, professional certification classes, competency tests, and even individual courses.

Nor would states be limited to authorizing traditional accrediting agencies. Businesses, labor unions, trade associations, non-profit groups, and any other applicant that met the state’s requirements could be empowered to accredit.

Under state accreditation, higher education could become as diverse and nimble as the job-creating industries looking to hire.

Read more on exactly what his bill would do here.

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