So what happens if Republicans take over the Congress?
In the Chronicle's podcast, journalists look at the backgrounds of the people who would be coming into (and out of) power in politics' higher education scene.
Here are my notes:
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House leadership. Former education committee chairman John Boehner of Ohio would replace House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California. Boehner is a friend of for-profit colleges and student-loan companies, and would work to eliminate the "90/10" rule that requires for-profits to get at least 10 percent of its revenue from non-federal sources. California's Pelosi, in contrast, has been an advocate of tighter regulation of the for-profit sector.
House ed committee leadership. Congressman John Kline of Minnesota would replace Congressman George Miller of California as chairman. Kline has opposed the Education Department's "gainful employment rule" and sent letters to Education Secretary Arne Duncan arguing for more disclosure over increased regulation.
Senate leadership: Majority leader Harry Reid could be ousted by Republican Sharron Angle. He has pushed for passage of the DREAM Act, and he guided the student loan reform bill through the Senate last year.
Senate ed committee leadership: Chairman Tom Harkin of Iowa could be replaced by Wyoming's Michael Enzi. Harkin has led a high-profile Senate investigation into for-profit colleges that Enzi has said is biased against the sector. Enzi said he’d extend the investigation to all institutions.
Other departures. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, an advocate of stem cell research, lost his seat in the Republican primary.
Inside Higher Education has a rambling, rather hard-to-get-through piece on the elections here. So I'm giving you the highlights and excerpts:
Significant legislation is unlikely. The big stuff is behind us.
Pell Grants, better accountability for research funding. They are likely to seep into some of the broader discussions of fiscal responsibility, and will continue to be examined closely -- especially with a Republican majority in one or both chambers.
Pledge to America. If Republicans follow it, many of the education and research programs that offer funding to students and colleges could see some shrinkage.
Elementary and Secondary Education Act. That's No Child Left Behind. Its renewal would be the top priority.
Higher education quality. If Congress takes a closer look at issues of quality in all of higher education -- not just at for-profits -- then state colleges, community colleges and historically black institutions could face challenges.
For-profit oversight. Even if Democrats pushed a bill restricting federal funding of for-profit colleges through the Senate, it would hit snags in a Republican-led House, which is "the great red hope" for the sector. Kline will probably work with Boehner “to drive legislation favorable to the for-profit industry” that will “most likely focus on watering down, delaying, or blocking the Department of Education's gainful employment rules.”
Lack of bipartisanship. The days when Boehner collaborated with Sen. Ted Kennedy on the No Child Left Behind legislation are over.
Lack of knowledge about Kline. Sources told Inside Higher Ed they weren't familiar with Kline's stance on many of the higher ed issues, and didn't know his team.