Monday, June 18, 2007

Spellings v. Congress

By Richard Vedder

Margaret Spellings is turning out to be pretty gutsy on one vital issue, higher education accreditation, and she is doing her darnest to implement the Spellings Commission recommendation that calls for more outcomes-based assessment. She wants to force accreditors (who depend on her for their accreditation) to demand this form of assessment.

Congress is now trying to stop this reform in its tracks. Both the Senate and House Education committees have said "don't implement new rules--or else." Sen. Alexander has threatened legislation that would curb the Secretary's powers.

Why is all of this happening? I would bet the family farm (if we had one) that the University and Accreditation Establishments are going to Congress and say "Spellings is forcing us to do things we don't want to do. Stop her." Now the Secretary faces a dilemma: does she go to war over this issue with the people who have the power to reduce her power and authority legislatively? I hope she keeps fighting, but I am very pessimistic about reform of the existing accreditation mechanism and long as lobbyists hold sway over Congress as they do now.

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