Second Tier Reforms

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives took a giant step forward in comprehensive student aid reform. The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, introduced by Education Committee Chairman George Miller, invests billions of dollars in financial aid at no new expense to taxpayers. The United States Student Association, along with college students nationwide, is ecstatic about Congressman Miller’s unsurpassed commitment to higher education.

Students Thrilled with Student Aid Reform Bill, Education is a Right, July 15, 2009

The Obama or Democratic party agenda seems fascinatingly split into two. On the one hand are the programs deemed “controversial” by some weird mixture of media interest and conservative hysteria. First it was the stimulus money and now it’s health care reform. These are certainly important efforts. But underneath or beside these efforts are an entire range of other initiatives that might add up to something just as important, if not more important. These initiatives (almost) slip under the radar.

They are noticed but then fade out of the media. Among these I would include the dropping of the F22, the so-called cash for clunker program, and now the ongoing attempts to de-privatize the student loan industry, which would make millions of dollars of new money available for Pell Grants while lowering the costs of education loans. These programs are going to start bearing fruit in the next few years and I think the effects are going to be dramatic. Taken together, they might be just as transformative as the ‘priority’ reforms.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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