On Thursday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee approved three bills that would revise parts of the Higher Education Act. The bills passed with bipartisan support after an apparently collegial process took place in writing them. The three bills were not really controversial, with the thornier issues involved in the effort to revise the larger Act, such as the Title IV student aid programs, left for later. Staff reports that they will delay any proposals related to the Act’s teacher preparation programs until after the August recess, at the earliest. Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) has undertaken a piecemeal strategy for reauthorization, following a script used in other areas by House Republicans. The easier portions of the policy are developed first, to build relationships and foster cooperation, in the hope that the goodwill might spill into the more difficult issues. The bills that passed, all by voice vote, are: Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act (H.R. 4983), that will help students gain access to the facts they need to make an informed decision about their education; Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act (H.R. 4984), that will promote financial literacy through enhanced counseling for all recipients of federal financial aid; and Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act (H.R. 3136), that would experiment with allowing federal student aid to go to education programs that include direct assessment of higher educational progress instead of purely time-based measurements. For a recording of the hearing, along with the text of the bills as approved by the Committee, go to: http://edworkforce.house.gov/calendar/list.aspx?EventTypeID=190.
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