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Higher Education: A Consumer Good, A Public Good

Higher Education: A Consumer Good, A Public Good

From the growing popularity of real estate courses to political redistricting, we have an eclectic group of articles for you in this edition. But first, following what has become a magazine tradition over the years, we bring to you an interview with the current U.S. Secretary of Education. Many of you may remember the interview with Margaret Spellings’ predecessor, Dr. Roderick Paige, in our March 14, 2002 edition. Paige made history as the first Black education secretary. And Spellings has made a little bit of history of her own as the first education secretary with school-age children.

Before her appointment, Spellings was best known in Washington circles for her role in crafting the No Child Left Behind Act, but she was still very much behind the scenes and rarely quoted. Her ties with President Bush run deep, going back to Texas in the late 1980s. She served as a political adviser to Bush when he was governor, and later as his chief education adviser.

Since arriving in Washington, Spellings has been on the front lines defending NCLB. Now she is taking on higher education, where she believes there needs be some improvements — more accountability for one. Says Spellings: “We spend $80 billion in financial aid out of this department, and we just sort of hope for the best.” She also says university presidents need to be able to answer questions about accessibility, affordability and value for this “very important consumer good that’s also a public good” called higher education. Check out senior editor Christina Asquith’s interview with the country’s top education official in “The School of Spellings.”

Speaking of politics and Washington circles, correspondent Tracie Powell took an in-depth look at the impact of redistricting on some minority communities during her six months as a fellow in the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism at The Ohio State University earlier this year. “Drawn Out of the Game” is an abbreviated version of Tracie’s report.
“Redistricting — it’s basic to American democracy, but has grown increasingly complex,” Tracie writes. “Complicated or not, playing God with geography for political gain dramatically impacts the lives of everyone, but especially Blacks, Hispanics and other groups struggling for power. … Redistricting is all about getting and keeping power.”

Also, correspondent and former Black Issues In Higher Education senior writer Paul Ruffins reports on the growing popularity of “Principles and Practice,” which is the basic course required to earn a real estate license. “P&P,” as it’s referred to, is taught in a variety of settings, from colleges and universities to real estate brokerage offices. But does the course belong in higher education or job training? Paul became interested in this issue a few years ago, as he launched a career as an agent, and he now teaches courses as well. “The situation is complicated because the real estate industry is not tied to a specific academic tradition, like law or medicine,” writes Paul.

Don’t miss the Recruitment and Retention special report coming up Oct. 19.

Hilary Hurd Anyaso

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