Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965
Public Hearing on Reauthorization - March 7, 2003
Archived Information

Panel 2
Question and Answer Session

MR. BRYANT: Thank you, Ms. Atkinson. Sally, do you have any questions?


MR. BRYANT: I have one question in general to Ms. Atkinson and Dr. Simmons. As you know, our HBCUs have provided outstanding graduates over the years. I'm a product of two HBCUs; I worked at a HBCU.

Several of our HBCUs have been experiencing difficulties over the years with accreditation. With the two organizations that you represent, are there any major initiatives ongoing to help strengthen all HBCUs, so as not to be facing similar problems down the road, that some are experiencing here today, if you could comment on those?

DR. SIMMONS: I am aware of what you've just said to be true. But in addition to that, I am aware of initiatives in the HBCU community, for those institutions that have been receiving some difficulties in accreditation here in the past, to receive the kind of help and support that those institutions need in order to carry out their missions.

Sometimes, what we are beginning to find, is that sometimes the infrastructure needs strengthening through some professional help that could come from some additional dollars to assist these institutions in realigning and redirecting the resources that they have, or realigning and redirecting their energies. And, also, looking at today's market and curricula issues and concerns, to be sure that the institutions have aligned themselves with the present-day needs and future needs.

MS. ATKINSON: As with most institutions of higher education, college presidents and their boards determine the direction of their campuses. UNCF tries to support our campuses in that regard, but there are many issues that we appropriately are not involved in. But where we can support them as they've had these issues with accreditation, we are trying to work with the Department initially in terms of some technical support, fiscal management-type of issues where possible.

We also have a cadre of presidents who have been leaders in the HBCU community for many, many decades, who can serve as technical assistants and peer review-type of groups to their colleagues and to campuses when they come upon issues.

But as you also well know, I know that my organization, and Mr. Ray particularly has had some communications with the Department about particular issues that HBCUs have faced with individual accreditors, and are looking forward to working with you in the reauthorization through materials seeking, and other ways in terms of how your accrediting process can benefit, or better benefit, the future liability of our campuses.

MR. BRYANT: Thank you.

DR. SIMMONS: May I make one additional comment?

MR. BRYANT: Yes, sir.

DR. SIMMONS: I would like to state that on March 3 through 5, just a few days ago, my institution did receive its national affiliation with North Central until 2013. But I've chaired the committee and I'm tired.

MR. BRYANT: Congratulations.

MR. ANDRADE: I just have one question for Dr. Moder. Looking at the high school, there's a strong correlation between the high school graduation rates of Hispanic students and college access rates of Hispanic students.

And I was wondering if there's anything that anybody at HSI could do to work with a partnership with the K-12 system to both strengthen the results of helping more Hispanic students complete high school, but also in their academic preparation through post education?

DR. MODER: Absolutely. And there is a good bit of that going on. HACU has sponsored a number of programs, actually since the year after its founding, to create better connections between the K-12 systems and the HSIs in the area.

I know that most of our HSIs, if not all, are involved pretty heavily in their community and to the local school districts. The issues are several. One is just getting information out about the opportunities for college, the opportunities for financial aid, to help students, particularly Hispanic and minority students, believe that college is an option for them.

Because many of them are growing up in a world where college is something that happens to other people, but not to anybody that I know. And getting somebody that they know that's been to college to talk to them becomes great.

Helping parents navigate their way through the financial aid forms and college applications processes is a major achievement. And getting students to spend a little time on college campuses, so that it doesn't seem like a foreign place, but a place that's a home for them; that it's a real possibility for them. Something that I think nearly all of our institutions are very much engaged in and would like to be even more engaged in.

MR. BRYANT: One final question regarding HBCUs, both of you mentioned strengthening teacher education programs. As you know, good schools are impossible without having good teachers in those schools. And as one of the criteria, students are required to take a test, Practice One, Practice Two.

Well, in either organization, are there programs being developed to assist in that effort at our HBCUs to strengthen those teacher education programs, because like you said, you have a wealth of knowledge, and a wealth of talent within those respective organizations?

MS. ATKINSON: Yes, Dr. Bryant. In fact, UNCF's recommendations submitted to the Department would augment, we believe that we do need to review the Section 207 reporting requirements in existence now, and augment them by looking at measures that we believe more accurately assess teacher preparation programs, like student's performance in their core teacher preparation programs both midcontinent and pedagogy, as well as possibly whatever score evaluation they receive when they do their practicum, whether it's by, again, the institution, or the school where they have actually gone to get that Baccalaureate. We think there are other ways to better make those evaluations.

We also support, as my other colleagues do, the whole concept of centers of excellence in minority education, because particularly with HBCUs, we were put in existence years ago as teacher colleges, normal schools, and we have a wealth of talent and experience. We're still producing the predominant number of African-American educators at all levels. We're coming up with some innovative things, we think, also to encourage African-American minority teachers outside of the higher ed purview to do that.

States are going to have to kick in more, but because of the economic downturn, we know that they're going to be hamstrung. So how can the Federal Government support them? We're looking at some creative things, like some very special low, low mortgage interest rate loans for teachers, entry-level teachers in terms of home ownership.

If you can help offset some of the real costs that teachers pay, out-of-pocket expenses, maybe those lower salaries don't somehow then deter them from taking a lower-paying job, as most of you other teachers are. We also encourage grant aid for those who want to teach, particularly in Title I schools, special education, English language, Title II foreign language programs, and things of that nature.

MR. BRYANT: Thank you. And thanks to the panel.


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Last Modified: 02/20/2009