How the GOP plans to approach higher ed, according to a leading Republican

Priorities are about to shift drastically

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-North Carolina), the likely chair of the U.S. House education committee under Trump's administration, has long criticized education under the Obama administration. 

Foxx spoke with Inside Higher Ed's Andrew Kreighbaum about the party's higher ed priorities, which will include reversing many of her predecessors' policies over the next four years.

Reverse regulations that target for-profit colleges

Under the Obama Administration, the Education Department issued strict regulations regarding gainful employment and borrower defense, which caused many for-profit schools to shut down.

Foxx does not agree with these regulations, calling them "just vindictiveness on the part of the administration for the for-profit schools." She hopes to handle issues of defrauded students on a case-by-case basis rather than offering students loan forgiveness.

"The [Obama] administration put these colleges out of business pretty arbitrarily," Foxx told Kreighbaum. "We don't have evidence that [the students] were defrauded."

Significantly reduce the federal government's role in higher education

Foxx believes that education should be handled at the state level, and that the federal government should no longer give states financial incentives for offering free community college. 

What you need to know about these financial incentives

"Have you read the Constitution lately?" Foxx asked Kreighbaum. "If you find the word 'education' in there as a responsibility of the federal government, then I might change my mind. But I haven't seen that word in there."

When asked about President-elect Donald Trump's comments about eliminating the Education Department, Foxx did not confirm the administration plans to close it completely. Instead, she said she sees an opportunity to scale back the department's functions.

"We need to look at [whether there] are things that can be done at the state and local level that are now being done at the federal level," Foxx said, "I think you're going to see that happening all across the board in this Congress... and in this administration."

What does education policy look like at the state level?

Shift the focus from access to completion

Foxx says that under the Obama administration, she "saw a lot of interest in paying for people's college whether they completed or not." Foxx hopes to put a greater emphasis on completion by emphasizing short-term goals for community college students.

We shouldn't "scare [students] away by saying in six years, or four years, you'll have a degree," says Foxx. "Some people can't think that far ahead."

The Obama administration's approach to completion

Stop trying to acquire student unit record data

"We don't need a lot of data," Foxx told Kreighbaum. "I think we can look for ways to gather information that will be informative to policymakers without setting up a student unit record system."

Foxx believes that seeking more data from institutions about their programs, outcomes, and salaries would be a violation of privacy.

"We don't want to give the federal government information," said Foxx. "That's a Democrat way of doing things."

Eliminate misperceptions about President-elect Trump

Under the new administration, Foxx says she hopes to move on from things Trump has said in the past. She hopes the press will begin to show that Trump does not condone violence.

"He doesn't believe in violence. He doesn't believe in things that have been happening," Foxx says of the president-elect. "I don't know a single Republican who does. Not one. We don't believe in that kind of stuff" (Kreighbaum, Inside Higher Ed, 11/17).  

In the wake of last week's election, student harassment has been on the rise

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