Department of Education: More Information about Everything

According to a piece by Joyce Jones in Diverse Issues in Higher Education, someone else is arguing that maybe debt rules and more information about outcomes shouldn’t stop with for-profit colleges. But who should provide this information? As Jones writes:

According to a report released by Dr. Bridget Terry Long, a professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, traditional higher education institutions should also be providing more information about how valuable the schooling they provide will be in the workplace.

The report, titled “Grading Higher Education: Giving Consumers the Information They Need,” says that all the information currently gathered by colleges and universities about student loan burdens, graduation rates, average class sizes and other categories should be made more consumer friendly and available by the federal government.

It’s worth pointing out that Long’s paper isn’t actually arguing that regular colleges should have rules about debt; she’s just pushing for more transparency about outcomes.

Long points out that the federal government already assembles a lot of information about colleges, it’s just hard for students and their families to read and compare that information. She believes that the feds “should expand efforts to produce information in consumer-friendly language that will help individuals make college decisions and act as a centralized source that actively takes responsibility for packaging and disseminating it so that it is readily available and accessible,” according to the article.

While this solution seems to make a lot of sense, the implementation of that sort of thing would prove troublesome. Families certainly could benefit from more information but it’s unlikely the federal government, particularly the Department of Education, will prove terribly good at disseminating it to real people.

“Producing information in consumer-friendly language” is not really one of the federal government’s major skills.

Read Long’s report here.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer