Bob Goodlatte: Protecting college choice

bob-goodlatte-afp2Across the Sixth District and the nation, new college students are moving onto campuses for the first time, setting up dorm rooms, preparing for classes, and are just beginning to embark on their higher education. They have chosen a school, have enrolled, and are preparing to work hard to better themselves. I remember well choosing to attend Bates College and Washington and Lee University for my education, and similarly I remember helping my two children choose the universities that they attended.

The reasons students and their families choose a college or university are personal, and are oftentimes based on a variety of factors that differ from person to person. America has an outstanding and unique college community. The diversity found here is unmatched anywhere else in the world. Students here have the option to go to public schools, private schools, community colleges, Historically Black colleges, women’s colleges, land grant universities, military colleges, and countless others.

A proposal by the Obama Administration and the Department of Education, however, threatens this diversity. Their plan is to rate colleges and universities based on standardized measures they choose with the intention of having financial aid tied to those ratings. This will lead universities and colleges to tailor their education programs to meet the Department of Education’s specifications, encourage students to go into one major over another, and limit the innovation potential that currently exists in our institutions of higher education. It is no wonder that 50 presidents of Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities have joined together to express their concern about this proposal.

It is a worthy goal to ensure students and families have relevant information about the schools they are choosing between, but rating our schools is not the role of the federal government. For this reason, I have introduced a bipartisan resolution in the House of Representatives, H. Res. 614, which strongly expresses opposition to this proposal and instead supports the quality and value of diversity and innovation in our nation’s colleges and universities.

It is not unique that the federal government tries to have its fingers in a little bit of everything these days. You name the issue and there is likely a federal rule or regulation that somehow governs it. The proposed college ratings system could, however, uniquely disrupt the powerful innovation and value of diversity we have here in the United States of America.

New college students who are moving into their schools and universities this fall had the opportunity to choose their school based on their own reasons. Family tradition, cost effectiveness, location, size of school, available majors, sports programs, religious affiliation – these are just some of the factors folks consider when making this decision. I don’t want to see these factors removed from the equation and replaced with a federally-created rating, and I don’t believe students and their families do either.

Bob Goodlatte represents the Sixth District in Congress.


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