Senator Rubio Advances Reform Ideas About Higher Ed

by George Leef

Most politicians are happy to go into the cheerleading mode whenever the subject is education. Just say how crucial education is for Americans, that we must have more “access” and forget about all unpleasant trade-offs. One politician who is not just a cheerleader is Florida’s Senator Marco Rubio. With Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, he has authored a bill that would provide more information to prospective college students, the “Right to Know Before You Go Act.” That proposal and some other ideas are included in a talk Senator Rubio gave today in Miami.

In my view, the most interesting idea here is the senator’s view of alternatives to the current accreditation system, which does little or nothing to ensure educational quality, but does act as a barrier to entry against innovative means for young people to learn skills and show their competence. The part I find especially intriguing is a federal pilot program to help break the bad habit that the business community has gotten into of insisting on standard college credentials for most job applicants. I am, of course, no friend of federal hiring, but the feds could possibly do some good by helping to establish alternative kinds of credentialing, which the business community might then follow.