This summer the media has paid close attention to the health of Nelson Mandela, global icon of freedom and post-Apartheid South Africa’s first president, who was hospitalized and reported in serious condition and recuperating. This coincides with the season in which we commemorate the March on Washington and Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream" speech fifty years ago. Fortunately we can use the linkage and look ahead because in late September of 2013 the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C. will unveil a statue of Mandela.
Policymakers are drowning in pools of incomparable data. And as policymakers set out to create good education policy, we see a pressing need for a unified effort to build a holistic system of metrics around the issues that matter the most for student success. With a better system in place, policymakers will be able to assess data clearly and compare it across all colleges and universities.
We both worked hard at a young age to be able to attend institutions of higher learning. While we both aspired to attend college, what we didn’t dream about was how we would ever afford it. Whether it was working long hours after school to save enough money or accessing the support network available to millions of prospective students through student loans, Pell grants and tax relief, we both found a way to make it work.
I recently received my Medicare card. Times have changed since I was 18 and headed out to college with my draft card. Ditto fifteen years ago when my AARP card arrived.
Now that I am approaching my 65th birthday, I have begun assessing my life in new and different ways. Before 65, I measured my accomplishments in dollars and cents, bricks and mortar, places I had been, people I had met and the children I'd raised. Post 65, I think I'll be making my assessment more along the lines of how I reacted to the many ah-ha days I encountered along the way.
But the debate on interest rates and who’s to blame if they double misses the bigger issue. College costs too much. There’s no brake on the incentive for states and colleges to raise tuition and fees. And students, particularly those from low and middle-income families, have to borrow too much to attend.
Washington is well into its much-anticipated discussion on immigration reform, with a proposal for a broad bill under consideration in the Senate and legislation overhauling high-skill immigration recently introduced in the House of Representatives.
Both pieces of legislation include a national fund intended to help the U.S. train more of its students in STEM fields and produce more college graduates able to meet the expected growth in high-skill jobs. The fund would be created through additional fees paid by companies seeking high-skill H-1B visas and green cards to hire foreign workers.