Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Julie. I'm calling Dick Durbin Monday. I'm curious who initiated this bill.

Expand full comment

Jan, thanks so much for reading and calling. Data collection like this has long been seen as a fix for the problem of the unclear value of a college education or higher degree programs.

A 2018 publication of a 2008-2012 study done by the Educational Policy Institute, in which 1974's Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is identified as something which gets in the way of effective data collection, calls for much broader data collection but on a voluntary basis. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED593360.pdf

The Gates Foundation has long championed a great deal more data collection to ostensibly determine the value of college. Last year they released something called the Equitable Value Explorer, a tool intended to solve the problem of not knowing if an institution's cost will deliver on student investment. You can read about it here: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2021/11/04/gates-foundation-effort-releases-new-tool-compare-colleges

or go straight to the tool here: https://equity.postsecondaryvalue.org.

Here's a link that hints at the history of this effort. https://web.archive.org/web/20200425204713/https:/www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/05/13/political-winds-shift-federal-unit-records-database-how-much

It goes back further than you'd think.

Notably, it's gotten as far as it has now only by being folded into another, unrelated, high-priority bill, and disallowed any public hearing. The only way to get it out of the America COMPETES Act is if the Senate decides to exclude it from the version that they pass.

Thanks for reaching out to Durbin's office.

Expand full comment