To: AASCU Presidents, Chancellors and Government Relations staff
From: Ed Elmendorf, Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Policy Analysis
Makese Motley, Assistant Director of Federal Relations and Policy Analysis
Re: Budget Conference/Twitter Campaign/Gainful Employment
Budget Conference/Twitter Advocacy Campaign
The federal government is operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) that will expire on January 15, 2014. Unless Congress comes to an agreement on a federal budget before then, we will continue operating under a CR that will continue to slash investments in higher education. Education programs such the Federal Work Study Program have been cut multiple times in the past two years, including $1.5 billion in combined cuts from the FY 2011 CR and a FY 2012 omnibus bill. The sequester cuts slashed another $2.4 billion from education programs, plus $401 million from Head Start. These waves of cuts have come at a time when enrollments have increased at both the K-12 and higher education levels while states, schools, students, colleges, libraries and museums have endured deep state and local budget cuts.
Next Tuesday and Wednesday (November 19th and 20th), AASCU, along with the Committee on Education Funding (CEF), will conduct a Twitter campaign to draw attention to the ongoing budget crisis. We are asking AASCU Presidents who regularly use Twitter to “tweet” messages to members of the Senate Budget Conference that are currently negotiating a budget. It is our view that the next several weeks will be critical in getting a budget agreement. Attached is a list of sample tweets that you and your institution may use along with a list of members that are being targeted. If you don’t use twitter, we urge you to reach out to Senators and Congressman directly over the next week and urge them to come to an agreement that preserves funding for higher education.
Department of Education Listening Session
Yesterday, the Obama Administration conducted their “listening tour” at George Mason University in Virginia. The bulk of the meeting highlighted concerns by several stakeholders that a rating system —if done poorly— could have unintended consequences. For example, the speakers warned that that a rating system would disregard differences in institutions’ mission or student characteristics, thus discouraging schools from taking on high risk students. Secretary Duncan tried to assure many in the audience that the administration would take institutional diversity into account as the department builds the rating system.
The second and final round of negotiated rulemaking to draft proposed regulations on the “gainful employment” provisions of the Higher Education Act is scheduled for November 18-20 in Washington, D.C. AASCU is the only Washington higher education presidential association to have a staff member appointed to the committee, and has actively worked to push for streamlined regulations that reduce overall compliance costs by focusing enforcement on high-risk institutions. The second iteration of the Department’s draft regulations a brief overview are available on the Department’s negotiated rulemaking page, which also provides links to submissions from the various non-federal negotiators.