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Public Statements

Higher Education Amendments Of 2007

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

HIGHER EDUCATION AMENDMENTS OF 2007 -- (Senate - July 23, 2007)


Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, I am offering a very simple amendment today which I hope will get overwhelming bipartisan support. My amendment simply instructs the Government Accountability Office to complete a study regarding the employment of postsecondary education graduates.

As my colleagues know, we live in a global economy that is creating intense competitive pressure on our workforce. It is more important than ever that our Nation's students, employers, and policymakers have access to good information about the effectiveness of our higher education system as it relates to employment and job placement.

One of my favorite books, one I know many of my colleagues have read, is ``The World Is Flat'' by Thomas Friedman. According to Friedman, the convergence of advanced technology, the removal of economic and political obstructions, and the rapid introduction of millions of young professionals into the global economy have dramatically flattened the economic playing field. Friedman believes these changes are creating opportunities for people to tap their full potential, boost their prosperity, and live out their dreams. He believes that Americans with the knowledge, skills, and adaptability to compete in this newly flattened world can look forward to a bright future, while those without these skills will be left behind.

If our higher education system is going to equip our students with the skills they need to compete, we need to have good information on graduate job performance so other students can pick the best schools and the most promising degrees.

My amendment would instruct the GAO to study the feasibility of collecting information on the employment of students who complete a postsecondary education program. It would also instruct the GAO to provide Congress with recommendations on several important questions, including whether the current State programs that bring education and employment functions together can be replicated in other States; whether there is a value to collecting additional information about the employment of postsecondary graduates; the most promising ways of obtaining and disseminating this information; if a Web site is used, whether the Web site should be run by a Government agency or contracted out to an independent organization; whether a voluntary information system would work, both from the graduates' and employers' perspective; how the information could be used in practical ways; whether the requests for such information are duplicative of information already being collected or whether the National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey could be amended to collect such information. These are all important issues we must consider as we seek to expand information on the employment experiences of our Nation's college graduates.

Before I conclude, I wish to explain how powerful this information could be in making our Nation more competitive in the global economy. If students could see how graduates from specific schools and with specific degrees have performed in the workplace, they could make better choices of alternative colleges and universities. If employers could see how graduates of specific schools and with specific degrees performed, they could make better hiring decisions. If colleges and universities could see exactly how they are performing in equipping students for the workplace, they could make adjustments to better compete with other higher education institutions. Finally, if lawmakers could see exactly how our education system is performing, it would help us all make better policy decisions in this important area.

I thank the Senator from Wyoming, Mr. Enzi, for his interest in this issue and for the assistance he and his staff have provided me. I look forward to working with him and the Senator from Massachusetts to find ways to increase the availability of information we have that connects higher education and employment.


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