by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
George Leef’s latest Martin Center column identifies one area in which the federal government should spend more money on higher education.
The federal government has no constitutional authority to spend money on higher education, to give or lend students money for it, to direct how colleges will function, or anything else. By far the best course of action would be for Congress to dismantle the Department of Education and repeal all U.S. statutes pertaining to education.
But since that is not going to happen in the foreseeable future, it is worth considering how the feds might do less harm or even improve higher education. The latter is not a null set.
In 2008, Congress passed and President Bush signed Public Law 315. It added a section to the Higher Education Act authorizing American History for Freedom (AHF) grants. The relevant language in Sec. 805 authorizes the secretary of education to approve grants “to establish or strengthen postsecondary academic programs or centers that promote and impart knowledge of (1) traditional American history; (2) the history and nature of, and threats to, free institutions; or (3) the history and achievements of Western civilization.”
In short, the Education Department could spend money to expand intellectual diversity in American higher education—a worthwhile goal.