In Response to Open Letter to the President Obama
What a well-thought out, clearly presented, and very convincing statement written as an open letter to President Obama by Richard Ekman, President of the Council of Independent Colleges !!
As a response to a number of criticisms by both President Obama and US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, as well as to similarly critical stories fueled by hyperbole in the media, President Ekman's letter addresses each of them very persuasively. Some of his comments reference all sectors of higher education. However, his major focus is framed by his eloquent defense of private institutions.
His response includes well researched data related to access and affordability opportunities and policies administered by private schools, including the higher percentages of enrollment of students from low income, first generation families as compared to many public institutions. Equally impressive comparisons are demonstrated by the timely graduation and employability numbers for students graduating from the private sector. Ekman's analysis of the often exaggerated educational debt levels of college students, also highlighted again by the media's sad but selective stories of borrowers who are not at all representative, is also well documented by data.
Perhaps the most powerful response was his defense of traditional higher education as essential to securing the benefits of a higher education experience. While acknowledging the need for the continued and creative use of modern technology and on-line delivery of instruction, he argues the best form for effectively delivering a quality American education is the face-to-face, more personal approach commonly provided by the often smaller, private school environment. Offering teaching and learning in an affordable and available manner for as many as possible, would be most effective when using a blended approach rather than only in an on-line format.
It will be interesting to note in the coming months whether President Obama incorporates, or at least acknowledges as worthy of public policy consideration, any of President Ekman's ideas.