Advocacy groups call for civil rights considerations in HEA
- Several dozen advocacy organizations, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Leadership Conference Education Fund, have outlined a list of principles that they say should be foundational elements of the Higher Education Act reauthorization process.
- The groups said that the HEA could grow in its role as an equalizer for students facing disparate conditions due to race, class, sexual orientation and medical disability because of its governing policies on college access and affordability.
- The group's recommendation document states that HEA reauthorization should include language to dismantle barriers to college enrollment, promote campus tolerance, encourage degree completion and responsible collection of student data, and block for-profit institutions from federal aid disbursement eligibility without records that prove value for students and graduates.
HEA reauthorization has been among the most controversial aspects of angst towards congressional work left undone. And chances are, the reauthorization may not be completed in this Congress, leaving many advocates and officials in limbo about key issues on campus free speech, sexual assault, accreditation and funding for colleges and universities outside of the large state and Ivy League higher education orbit.
For as long as institutions are left to navigate policies established in the last version of the HEA, and the prospect of massive changes under a dramatically different political and economic landscape, leaders will be left to create policy that suits their campuses and campus communities on social issues, while waiting for the inevitable controversy that dramatic changes will create for administration and enforcement of these rules.