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As Congress eyes Higher Education Act, conservative scholars put forth reform blueprint

The National Association of Scholars has put forth ideas on how to improve higher education in anticipation of Congress’ upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, which spells out all the rules that regulate the nation’s colleges and university.

The recommended changes aim to “remove barriers to learning that have gained a foothold in American higher education, including rampant politicization of the curriculum and the extra-curriculum,” according to the group.

Among many suggestions, the association posits that to qualify for federal aid, colleges must be forced to “file a pledge with the Department of Education to uphold student speech and association,” “set up judicial procedures for students and faculty with robust due process,” and “verify that they are not a ‘sanctuary campus.'”

The association also suggests: “Require colleges to submit an annual report on steps taken to uphold  [free] speech and association commitments, detailing any instances in which such a commitment has been violated by students or faculty and how the institution has taken steps to punish offenders and better protect the rights of speech and association in the future.”

It seeks to have Congress “define ‘sex’ as biological, not mental or emotional, or dependent on an individual’s self-perception.”

Also on the list: “Require colleges and universities to set up judicial procedures for students and faculty with robust due process, the presumption of innocence, the right to counsel, the right to know what one is charged with, the right to face one’s accuser, and the right at all times to speak publicly about any case,” as well as to “refer all reported felonies immediately to the local police.”

More suggestions state: “Homeschooled students who have finished the 12th grade should be added to Title I as an explicit category of fully qualified high school graduates.”

Also, “in light of the widespread use of speaker fees and honoraria by universities to transfer large sums of money to politicians and activists in favored causes, all colleges and universities that are recipients of federal funding are required to disclose such fees and emoluments in excess of $20,000.”

The association has penned a letter to Congress to urge lawmakers to consider its suggestions. It’s been signed by dozens of respected scholars and high profile higher ed watchdogs and is slated to be delivered later this week.

The letter says the Higher Education Act “has been transformed into a special interest bonanza” and “puts a heavy financial burden on students and parents, who are misled into the belief that federal student loans make higher education more ‘affordable.'”

“In its current form, HEA blocks the rise of healthy competition among colleges and universities and stifles educational innovation. It also abets the rampant politicization of the curriculum and campus life, and allows our institutions of higher learning to suppress freedom of speech and thought,” the letter states. “… We need significant changes in the HEA, not just a tidying up of dusty corners.”

Read more at the National Association of Scholars’ website.

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