A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n
US Department of Education

Conclusion and Summary

Student at Graduation


This is a time of awe-inspiring change in postsecondary education, just as it is for the rest of the world. But core values don't change; the means to achieve them might, but the values themselves do not. As a nation, we value education and have since colonial times. Since those times, we have made great progress toward enabling all of our citizens to achieve the American Dream. Education has been the key. Yet, there's more to be done.

All Americans deserve a chance at the economic opportunity, cultural enrichment, and civic engagement that result from higher education. By building upon our investment in education, we can ensure the future prosperity of our nation. Robert Hutchins, the great educator and former president of the University of Chicago, once wrote, "The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives." In the information age, that is true now more than ever.

Each generation faces its own challenges. In the Education Era the challenge is to educate a broader mix of people to be our next generation of leaders and to prepare all Americans to succeed in the competitive global economy of the 21st century. More importantly, we must educate the next generation of students to be capable, responsible citizens who give something back to their community, the country, and the world.

To succeed at this daunting challenge, we must constantly measure our progress, especially in this digital age of rapid change. It is not a simple task, but it begins with a simple step. We asked. We went across the country and asked our stakeholders, "How are we doing?" We asked, "What should we be doing differently?" We received many thoughtful answers; they're detailed in this report.

Based on what we heard, we have set out twelve strategies, and thirty-eight specific action items for OPE. In total, they outline a new path for OPE. The principles that guide us along that path are solid and set in stone. We seek to establish access to a quality education for all Americans. We are determined to accurately assess the money spent to achieve that goal. Yet the means to achieve the goals are not set in stone. More likely they are written on a personal digital assistant, because today and in the future we must be responsive to the changing needs of lifetime learners. We must be flexible. A rigid bureaucracy serves no one.

At OPE we will remain flexible. We will keep asking questions and we will keep listening. The primary goal of this report is to make sure the dialogue continues and changes are made. We must all squarely face the tough questions of access, financing, accountability, technology, teacher quality, and globalization. It is clear our universe is changing rapidly. It is equally clear we have the assets to adapt to the change. Working together, we can make a quality, cost-effective, postsecondary education a reality for all Americans.


< >