The President of Liberty University will be in charge of reforming higher education.
2016 marked a historic year for the United States. It marked the end of the presidential term for the first African-American president, and the first year the country had a female presidential candidate. Throughout their campaigns, the presidential candidates made a multitude of promises to the public. They promised reform in public health, security and even education.
To fulfill some of his presidential promises, President Donald Trump wrote an executive order in February declaring task forces to reform key areas of public concern through that order. This Sunday marked the first step towards the fulfillment of that promise.
On Sunday, an official source from the White House confirmed Jerry L. Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, a Christian school in Virginia, will head a task force that would propose nation-wide reforms for higher education institutions. Falwell has been a close supporter of the Trump administration. Many critics have postulated that Falwell’s new position is a direct result of the support he has offered the current U.S. president.
If the task force starts its operations, it will report to the White House instead of the Department of Education. Falwell will be one of 15 college presidents on the higher education task force. From there it is not clear what will happen, which is a source of concern for many politicians.
Earlier this year, several senators wrote to the Department of Education asking for further clarification on the workings of the White House education reform task force.
First, the task force will consist of appointed university presidents. Like most task forces, this one will have no power to make anything into law. Instead, the college presidents will agree on and propose changes to existing education policies, regulations, and procedures. According to Falwell, the priority issues for the task force will include financing of and access to higher education by the ordinary American. Falwell previously said in a statement that the task force wanted to stop the “micromanaging of colleges and universities” by the government. This move would give more Americans access to higher education. The task force will also tighten the regulations pertaining to need-based financial aid in U.S. universities. That, along with reform on taxes related to financial aid, should make a college more affordable to the U.S. population. It will also help cut down on fraud during the financial aid selection process.
Jerry Falwell Jr. (President of Liberty University, a school that teaches creationism) will be involved in a task force on education reform.
— Nick Scott (@ItsNickScott) June 13, 2017
Even after the statement’s release, many leaders questioned Falwell's ability to lead the task force. Others argued even though the taskforce’s objectives had been established, its methods of operation had not. Without an established modus operandi, the task force cannot be held accountable for fair and transparent actions. Indeed, Falwell still has a lot of work ahead of him in explaining the reason for the taskforce’s existence to the American public.
- The Chronicle of Higher Education
- The News & Advance -Update: Higher-ed task force involving Falwell shifts to White House
- The News & Advance -Private college memo could be Falwell task force playbook