Tuesday, April 03, 2007

FIPSE Earmarks

If it quacks, flies, looks like a duck . . . I suppose could be said of earmarks. In 2005, congressional earmarks for higher education out of the Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE) eliminated the grant competition. Since then, congressional earmarks funded by FIPSE have disappeared, but that does not mean that the whole FIPSE budget will be in the open grant program for the next year. As the Chronicle of Higher Education reports, Secretary Spellings has set aside almost half of the money budgeted for this year for FIPSE.

It is completely within the Secretary's purview to do this, but it is unusual. The original intent of the program is to promote the improvement and innovation of higher education without particular limitations. However, the Secretary has made it clear in several instances that she wants to move forward on the recommendations from the Commission of the Future of Higher Education's report, "A Test of Leadership." The two areas receiving the most attention from the Department of Education have been accountability, and you should spell that a-c-c-r-e-d-i-t-a-t-i-o-n, and K-12 to college alignment. Expect to see programs addressing transparency in accountability and high school to college alignment privileged in this round of applications. Not exactly an earmark, but still quacks a bit.

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