This week, the House Education and Workforce Committee will mark up the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act, a comprehensive bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). Executive Director of the STEM Education Coalition James Brown made this statement on the bill.
We appreciate that the PROSPER Act contains a series of provisions directed at significantly streamlining the student financial aid process and providing flexibility to allow for emerging career and technical education programs, such as apprenticeships. The bill also broadly promotes alignment between workforce and industry needs and higher education goals and accountability measures.
However, the total elimination of current teacher education programs supported under Title II of HEA is greatly troubling, as the country is already facing a lack of high-quality STEM teachers, especially in underserved communities. Eliminating the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program would further compound this problem. We also urge the Committee to include a much more substantial focus on educational equity for populations that are historically underrepresented in higher education, especially in the STEM fields.
We appreciate the efforts of the Committee to advance comprehensive higher education reform. However, until these concerns are addressed, we cannot support this bill.