Inside Higher Education provides some good insight into the goings on that is a must read for anyone concerned about special interests on the panel like Chairman and CEO of Kaplan, Inc. who have a stake in seeing that colleges are turned into the same test-prep factories as K-12.
In a session Thursday in which he tried to wrap up the first day’s work, Richard Stephens, executive vice president of Boeing, listed the various “stakeholders” that the panel had to address in its work: politicians and policy makers, college presidents, employers, professors, students, the general public.
College leaders on the panel and some higher education officials who have been watching its work closely have, like Ward, urged the commission to emphasize the positive as well as the negative in its final report. A report with a harshly critical tone, they suggest, will have a hard time winning over the college administrators and faculty members who ultimately will have to do much of the heavy lifting if the report’s recommendations are to succeed.
But Miller has bristled at times at the suggestion that the panel should pull its punches or soften its “tone” in any way to avoid insulting college officials. The most important constituent, he has said again and again, is the public, and the report needs to be written in direct and blunt language that will resonate with them. He has taken to referring frequently to “A Nation at Risk,” the 1983 report that decried a crisis in the country’s high schools and inspired significant efforts at fixing the problems.
While Miller has taken pains to note that higher education is not nearly in the mess now that secondary education was perceived to be back then, its resonance with him suggests that his idea of the right “tone” for his commission’s report might not jibe entirely with the one college leaders would prefer.