Yesterday was Presidents Day. And in this season where we celebrate the power and accomplishments of our chief executives past, our current president has given us more reason to remember how skewed his sense of responsibility really is.
After growing government spending astronomically, not to mention sticking a large finger in all American schools with No Child Left Behind, President George W. Bush has supposedly remembered that he was elected as a conservative.
Last week, the Congress overwhelmingly passed the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007, the most recent update to the Higher Education Act of 1965. The bill, as reported by The Temple News today, covers myriad higher education issues – everything from funding to crime reporting to illegal downloading.
The Bush administration has stated publicly its intent to veto the bill, despite vast bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. The main sticking point, according to a statement released by White House officials after the bill’s passage, would make federal funding contingent upon limiting tuition increases.
Colleges all over the country have been steadily increasing their tuition rates for years. According to the Chronicle for Higher Education, public and private institutions raised their tuitions by an average of 6 percent last year, following a comparable increase in 2006.
Why does it seem like the cost of education is always rising? Many experts and legislators point to friendly relationships between private loan companies and universities. The universities receive huge payoffs, while the loan companies enjoy your extra debt.
The bill’s provision is simple – provide some oversight to the colleges with the highest tuition increases, and reward those who rein in costs.
In 2008, higher education is within reach for more Americans than ever. But the corporations who make it possible are just that, and almost never have the best interests of students and parents in mind.
Needless to say, Bush’s thin argument of conservatism doesn’t hold up here. Not to mention the fact that universities and private lenders aren’t just overcharging students, they’re overcharging the government in the form of federal grants and loans. It’s clear that the Bush administration cares more about the profits of private lending companies than access to education for those who need it most.
So this week, as we celebrate great American leaders who were champions of access and equality, consider what we want in the man or woman who leads this country next.
Whose best interests will the next president have in mind?