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I'm Sue Dynarski. I'm Co-Director of the Education Policy Initiative at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. Nice to see you all here today. So, this policy talk lecture marks the opening of the conference on student loans which would not have been possible without the general support of our cosponsors. And I'd like to recognize the Upjohn Institute and the Spencer Foundation for their work and their funds in making this event happen. So, thank you so much. So, this conference is going to be bringing together some of the country's--I didn't write this, some of the country's top minds, on an issue that not only interest us but affects many of us in the room. So, today's speaker is President Obama's Special Assistant for Education Policy, Roberto Rodriguez. The most important thing to know about Roberto Rodriguez is that he's Wolverine. So, he's an alumnus of the University of Michigan. He also got a degree from Harvard in education, but that's OK. Since then, he's been at this Appointment. He was Chief Education Counsel to the late Senator Ted Kennedy, assisting in the development of education legislation. He contributed to the development of the No Child Left Behind Act, and he's worked on various reauthorizations of federal legislation including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Head Start, Child Care, Higher Education, and the America COMPETES Act. And he'll tell you what that acronym means. So, before I ask Roberto to the podium, I want to remind you that if you've got a question for him, write on one on of the cards that's getting passed out in the entrance or you can tweet it in using the #policytalks, one word. And Roberto, the floor is yours.
Thank you. Thanks, Sue.
[ Applause ]
Hi, good afternoon everyone. It's a real honor to be with you here today for this important conversation. I really want to begin by thanking Sue and Dean Collins, and the entire faculty here at the Ford School for inviting me to be here. And of course, special thanks to the Upjohn Institute and to the Spencer Foundation for their generous support of engaging in this really important topic. It's really great to be back home. It's really great to be back among my fellow Wolverines, and here at our University of Michigan community to have the conversation here today. I really want to begin by making the connection that's rather obvious to most of us that are gathered here today, but I think it's nevertheless central to the conference and to the arc of the papers and discussions that you'll explore in the coming two days. And this is really the simple reminder that perhaps more than at any other time in our nation's history, higher education is really the engine for our economy and the spark that is going to continue to ignite our democracy. There are countless examples from across the country of how earning a college degree really opens the doors of opportunity. For families, it places them on a greater pathway toward economic mobility and prosperity, and success. Examples of how the pursuit of a college degree helped young people find their place in their communities, in their worlds around them, and in their country. And that will certainly the case for me during my time here at the University of Michigan. In the mid '90s, as an undergraduate that will still feeling he's way about his academic path, eager to set forth and to change the world. And in today's economy, as President Obama reminds us, a college degree is the surest rung on the ladder of opportunity into the middle class. A new global economy brings new challenges, new demands, but it's very clear that gone is that economy of a quarter century ago where a worker with a high school credential could make at least half of what a college graduate would earn across their lifetime. So, we know that education is the strategy for our 21st century economy. Our children are competing with the rest of the world for jobs of the future, and our long-term economic security is directly tied to the quality of the public education that we can provide today. That's why this topic that we're exploring over the course of this conference is so important. You know, many of you here are esteemed in this field, in this academic discipline. You're familiar with the statistics. You know that our economy clearly rewards those with the higher education. We know that our college graduates have higher earnings that we know also that there's a real imperative here is 8 and 10, new jobs in the US will require some post-secondary education or training. And the 30 of the 30 fastest growing jobs in our economy today, over half of those require a four-year degree. But beyond this economic imperative, we also have to at the onset here of our conversations, remind ourselves of the moral imperative that we have, the moral responsibility we have. And that we're a nation that defines ourselves based on our ability to provide every individual the opportunity to rise as far as their hard work and their initiative will take them. And so, increasing access to higher education is fundamental to living up to that moral commitment. And it's one of the best things that we can do for our country. This is why we've organized our efforts in Washington around the goal that the president laid out when he first arrived at the White House. And this is a goal to lead the world with the highest proportion of college graduates by 2020. Our Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, he calls this goal our North Star. And that's exactly what it is. It's a guide post and it's a reminder to us to strengthen education at every level and to deliver on this challenge. So, in order to reach this goal, we'll need to increase the share of college graduates that we produce in our nation by 50 percent over what produced in 2009. And by the numbers, this means 8 million more young adults will need to earn associates and bachelors degrees by the end of this decade. We'll have to outpace our current rate of degree attainment relative to our population growth which has this more or less producing about 3 million more college graduates by the end of the decade. So, we play such an emphasis on this 2020 goal because we know that higher education is such an important investment worth making. We know again the median earnings of bachelors degree recipients are markedly higher 21,000 dollars or more than high school graduates. And we know that it really does provide a true ladder into the middle class. Of adults who grow up in the middle class, 31 percent of those that have a college degree were operatively mobile into the top income quintile between 2000 and 2008. Now, this is compared with just about 12 percent of those that did not have a college degree. So, especially for students that are graduating into weak economies, it's frequently something and can often take time to find the path that ensures that going to college was really worth it. But those with more education tend to experience larger increases in their earnings as they age and we know that based on current earnings' patterns that if people with bachelors degrees work full-time over their work lives, they'll earn about two-thirds more on average than a high school graduates. So, we know we have this imperative that it's a backdrop to this 2020 goal. It's an ambitious goal, the pace of progress for our young Americans and college attainment is very ambitious under this charge. But one thing is really clear. We're not going to meet it unless we really embrace a spirit of change in our higher education system. And that is going to involve a shared responsibility that expands from leadership at our higher education institutions, to state legislators and governors, to public and private stakeholders, parents, and of course ultimately students, to be able to accelerate towards this 2020 challenge. And reaching the goal will require also a collective will on the part of policy makers and partners, higher education leaders, philanthropy, and others, to really ask the tough questions that are ultimately going to foster change in our higher education system. Are we doing right by our students? Do they have the reliable sources of aid and support that they need to be successful and as they pursue their degree? Do our colleges and universities have the proper capacity to harness innovation? And are we equipped with the right incentives to drive reform focused on improving the educational experience for students while they're on campus? Our federal and state policy is well-attuned with a mission, a vision, and a focus that promotes not only higher education access but college completion. Are we confronting the state of teaching and learning on our college campuses and aligning it with the needs and demands of 21st century learners?
[ Applause ]
[ Pause ]
Thank you very much once again for coming to speak with us. We have a whole bunch of questions. I hope you are ready.
All right. Let's start with this one. This is from the audience. Should we be concerned that Lincoln College ratings to outcomes like graduation will provide incentives for schools to manipulate these measures? For example, by making classes easier or weakening college degree requirements?
Yes I think we have to be vigilant about that. You know--this is, as I mentioned is challenging endeavor to develop a new rating system and we have to be able to look at the interactive effect of the various variables that would be intergraded there. There is clearly opportunity if we were looking at graduation rates for instance alone to gain that system. And that's why we also need to be looking at new measures around quality and making sure that we're focus in attending to the rigor of teaching and learning at our institutions. And we have some measures that we can look toward now there. Particularly looking at gainful employment as one. But we need more, we actually, honestly need more innovation in that space, we need better measures of teaching and learning at the postsecondary level. We have not turned our attention as a country from an education prospective to developing better measures there unlike in our K-12 and early childhood sector where there a lot of measures around quality.
Roberto, my name is Mark Weatherspoon [assumed spelling], I am a doctoral student in the higher education program here at Michigan. This is kind of similar to the question that was just asked, but do you think that there would be any type of influence of this present score on the current accreditation system? And if there is not what do you think about the occurring accreditation system? And do you think there's any changes that we should be focusing on?
Well, you know--I thank you for the question. I do think we need to endeavor to improve the current accreditation system. And, you know, part of the President's message at the beginning of this year in the State of the Union was to take on this challenge of reforming accreditation. You know, I think at the institution level, you have state level as well as regional and discipline specific accreditors constantly coming and looking at whether that institution's accredited. Many of those institutions--many of those processes do not focus on outcomes as much as they should. Many of them focus too much on inputs. So we believe we need to have a new conversation about accreditation. We're hoping we can have that as part of the reauthorization that Congress might consider of the Higher Education Act. And we also believe we need more alternate systems of accreditation. Because we believe that there are new innovations that are that are taking shape today in our higher education landscape that are not either well suited or willing to go through the more traditional accreditation process. But that might be producing good outcomes for students. So we can't lose sight of that and we need an alternate process to be able to recognize that too.
Thank you. Sorry I neglected to introduce myself last time, I'm Danny Christman. I'm a staff here at the Ford School. Let me give you one last one about the measures. What are the defining parameters of what the administration considers "called high quality education?" For example, can you give us some more specifics, the factors that might go into the ratings?
Sure. Well, you know, we're looking at the rating system at measuring issues like access. You know how many--what is the share of low income eligible students for instance that the institution is enrolling. We're looking at issues around affordability, what is the change in net price for instance and how does that square with, you know, some of the other data that we have with respect to maybe--if it's a public institution how much the state is investing in that institution? And we're looking at factors around outcomes. We're looking default rates. And we want to look at some measure of gainful employments, some measure of future earnings as an important proxy there. You know, right now, through the [inaudible] process, the government collects data on about 15 different indicators across our higher education institutions. So we have quite a bit of data already out there. I think the challenge here for us is going to be how to distil that in a really thoughtful system that is fair to institutions that compares institutions in a fair manner, because our higher education sector is tremendously diverse. It's one of its strengths, right. We have great two-year colleges, great four-year colleges, public, private career colleges, more liberal arts institutions. So, we want to be able to have a system that's going to recognize the new ones there. And overtime, we'll be setting for the technical advisory group that will help our Department of Education navigate the development of this type of system.
[ Pause ]
I guess we're going to kind of switch gears a little bit here. This question is probably a three-hour, it needs a three-hour response, but five minutes will do. Let's talk about gainful employment.
OK, let's talk about it.
Yeah. Can you--just real quickly, where are at on the state of gainful employment? How big of a factor is this going to be in the higher education system? And do you think that such a policy will possible deter students from seeking out specific majors or philosophy?
That is another three-hour lecture.
We'll try to tackle it. You know, our administration had taken the first foray into regulating on the congressional requirement for gainful employment of Career College programs. These are programs that are vocational in nature that are preparing students to enter a particular field of employment. You know, we have promulgated a rule earlier in our administration that looked at debt to earnings ratios as an important measure of success, as well default rates in the context of calibrating a new system that looks at gainful employment and that whether individual programs, not whole schools, but individual programs offered within schools are delivering on this commitment and this requirement by statute. Many of those schools are actually--many of those programs are operated at community colleges. But many of them are also operated at for-profit institutions. And many of those for-profit institutions--some of them are wonderful actors. Others, unfortunately, are not delivering or they're--you know, students are graduating, unable to enter gainful employment or with very high levels of debt or default. So, the key to making sure that we are not curtailing, a necessarily options for students is to make sure that we have thoughtful system that's measured. I would point out that we're already beginning to collect data from the sector. And I think we're seeing a relatively low share, less than modest share of institutions that actually are not able to meet the proposed matrix that we're initially part of our administration's rule. But there are number of institutions out there that have programs that didn't measure up. We now are back at the negotiating table, that's where we are right now because there was a part of our rule that was stayed by the court, by the circuit court. And we are reconvening negotiators to look at redrafting a new rule around gainful employment. I can't talk too much about the particulars of that rule because those negotiations are actually ongoing into the next--into next month. And that regulation will continue to take shape. What I will say is we are going to continue to pursue this because we believe that it's an important function of our government to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. We do not want taxpayer dollars going to programs that are saddling students with that and that are not resulting in a gainful employment and not enabling them to repay that debt. And we are going to take a close look at the concentration of programs that are failing those measures on the basis of the disciplines, right? Right now, I don't think we have data that suggests that there is a particular discipline that would be disproportionately impacted by the administration's original gainful employment rule. But we'll continue to look at that moving forward because we now have--we'll soon have two years worth of data to be able take a closer look at that question.
I majored in philosophy. I'm not sure how much I would recommend that. So here's one from the Twitter world. If you could make one change in the entire education system to improve equity, we had several questions about equity, what would that be?
Well that--it's a challenge because there's a whole lot we need to do in equity across the pipeline to create of their career. But I think the single most important change that can be made in terms of really tackling the impact of poverty on learning is to provide all of our children a high quality education before they reach kindergarten. And this--the contours of that plan is the President's proposed that is to provide preschool for all low and middle income four-year-olds in the country. And make sure that that preschool is high quality. We have had study upon study that had demonstrated the return on investment upwards to seven dollars for every dollar invested, there's individual benefits, there are broader community benefits, economic benefits. And it's, you know, we've seen this also tried in communities around the country both at the state level and at the local level. And we've seen tremendous impact here. I would turn folks to the recent study that was released by the Foundation on Child Development that Deborah Phillips, who was the author of one of the Neurons to Neighborhoods National Science Foundation Studies, helped compiled that shows the benefits of high quality pre-K. We believe that it's one of the key drivers for equity moving forward. And if we can do that, we have the opportunity to begin to remediate that achievement gap and that learning gap that already is manifesting itself at 60 points between low income children and their more affluent peers by the time they reach kindergarten.
This is another one from the Twitter--not Twitter, from Twitter. There is no empirical evidence on effective long counseling. So what is the Department of Ed doing to revise its services and why not fund research?
Good idea. I think we should do more to fund more research on that front. You know, we do believe that we need to do a better job of reaching borrowers and providing them greater counseling. You know, we've definitely know that the tools that we're provided previously were not sufficient. So what we've done has gone back to the drawing board and created a new interface that all students can interact on at--it's at www.ed.gov. If you link on student aid, you can interact with the college counseling tool and loan counseling tool that, as I mentioned in the remarks, really reaches borrowers at every point in their college career from entrance through school and then, obviously, accept counseling. You know, information and transparency around data is one of the most important things that we can do in this sector, in terms of providing a greater focus on outcomes and on quality, in terms of making sure that families and students are well-equipped to make good decisions. And that's just something that we know to be true. I think we can probably fund research to better calibrate our loan counseling tools, but we don't, as approach see any harm in trying to provide students better and more targeted assistance and help in understanding the options available to them.
[ Pause ]
To meet the President's goal for degree attainment the higher education must engage more nontraditional adult and part time students.
The federal policy seems to be shifting towards tying federal aid to shorter times to degree completion. How can these two imperatives be reconciled at the national policy level?
That's a good question. You know, I think we have to acknowledge that, you know, four years is no longer a traditional trajectory for college attainment, right? I mean, I think we have that reality, you know, across our even traditional four-year public colleges and universities, that is certainly the case, if not more so at our community colleges where you have, you know--and increasingly at our public four years where we have more students that are working while they're pursuing their studies, more adults that are returning to pursue their studies and balancing work and family. And we know that we can't reach the President's charge to us around 2020, if we don't do more to help adult to be successful in the system. So, you know, we have to keep that in mind as we're shaping policies and moving things forward. One example is to think about what we can do to support perhaps some changes or modifications to the program particularly for adult students. Right, and I think we've seen some innovative research coming out of Louisiana, you know, looking at performance-based awards for degree attainment that aren't necessarily pegged to this specific timeframe but where awards are allocated based on the amount of credit that individual cruse almost as a reward or support as they pursue their studies increasing and focusing on persistence. You know, I also think there are other interventions, smaller learning communities and cohorts of students moving through together particularly for our adult students and our nontraditional students so to speak that we found to be--that research is found to be successful. So I think we near myriad strategies there to be able to support our adult students and certainly we don't want to have one size fits all policy when it comes to making sure that our students are successful, we have to take them into mind those populations.
This one is going to be--I think this might be from a professor.
[ Laughter ]
'Cause it deals with massive open online courses.
Did--kind of been viewed as a way to increase access at low cost. But how do we insure quality? And what does the administration's role or what is the administration think of the role of massive open online courses in higher education?
You know, we believe that technology can be a real driver for innovation in higher education. When it comes to massive online courses, massive open online courses or books we believe that we have to do more to scale the types of assessments that are needed to know whether they work. You know, we don't yet have the series of performance-based assessments that enable us to know that students are progressing through a particular online module or MOOC that they'll be successful. And so, I think those assessments are currently being developed by a number of the various providers. We hope that--and we believe we have a role at the federal level to help support greater assessment and greater tools that can be used as institutions of higher education and private individuals develop these MOOCs. So that we have a better sense of what's working in that space. I think we're still learning a great deal about what's working and what could work when it comes to online learning in higher education. Our National Science Foundation is doing some studies of that work as well. So we're going to continue to learn from that. I'll say the one thing that I think is most exciting in this space is that once we're able to understand what adapted platforms and what online innovations are most successful with our learners we can apply that to the Science of Learning on College Campuses. And if we can help support a new conversation with our faculty members about how to use technology and embed that in a blended way in their course work that has the potential to reach a far greater number students than--that are currently enrolled and currently pursuing their higher education than just relying on MOOCs as a substitute platform for higher ed.
OK. There are two questions on this, I'm going to amalgamate them here for you. I'm also going to paraphrase because, one, it needs paraphrasing. So in essence why create a rating system rather than just provide public information? The other one says, another know before you know campaign, why is this administration so strongly focused on consumer choice?
Well, you know, I'll take the last one first, which is that we believe that the pursuit of higher education for too many students is too opaque, honestly. We believe that, you know, we have not done enough to help support states in the process of, you know, defining standards and defining learning progressions that will help--that are very clear, that are easy to understand for the public and that help, particularly young people graduating from high school, understand what it will take for them to get their college degree, understand the various pathways they have, you know, to reach their--to reach a four-year degree for instance. That's not to say that we're not seeing innovation in that space, you know. We're starting to see, you know, states like Florida and other systems, you know, the Arizona system, for instance that's starting to look at defining learning outcomes and aligning that articulation between two-year and four-year colleges so that students are actually able to more seamlessly finish their associates degree, transfer to a four-year institution and finish that four-year degree in half the cost sometimes of students that might start out at that four-year institution. So, you know, that's just one example of a place where we don't have enough transparency for families and for students. We collect a bunch of data, as I mentioned. We collect 15 different indicators. We don't provide that data in a really easy to understand reliable format for parents or for families. So if you think about higher education as one of the most important investments you can make as a family, you're sitting around the college table or you're sitting around the kitchen table. And thinking about choosing a college, you want to be able to have that data just as you would if were buying a home and you'd be able to go on homes database and be able to print out a comparable format to at least know it's not going to tell you everything about those particular options but it at least provides a level of comparable data. We believe that's needed. And that's why we're so focused on providing consumers information. Now, you know, that's not all we need to do, right. That is not where this conversation needs to begin in that. We have a lot more to do to support affordability and innovation to actually make sure that that translates into opportunity for students. I forgot the first part of your question, I'm so sorry.
That's OK, I think that covered most of that--
--couple of [inaudible].
So, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have income-based loan repayment programs for all students. Yeah.
US limits these options to the lowest income borrowers, why not expand this option for everyone?
Well, I think it's a good question and a good issue for us to look at. You know, we are focused right now on our low income borrowers because we have only a fraction of--we believe we have captured only a fraction of the students who most need and could most benefit from income-based repayment. And that's why I mentioned we are starting to target some of our subsets of borrowers who we know might need the most help and could really benefit from IBR. But, ultimately, I think it's a good question, a good debate for us to have. And something good for Congress to consider in terms of whether we can expand IBR more actively to more students and ultimately tell the students across the country. You know, we're not there yet, that's an expensive proposition as well so it's something that we would really have to have the funding to be able to support. But, you know, it's something that we are--that we're eager to talk more about and to explore in Congress.
So here's a question from Twitter about loan repayment. It says, loan repayment is complex and do you anticipate a partnership between the Department of Education and Treasury so repayment can go to the tax system?
Yes, I mean, I do think we are going to try to do more to support this. We are, you know, we've been able to fortunately really forge a strong partnership on the income-based repayment front as well as on the passive front with our friends at Treasury to be able to import tax information in a more seamless way, so that individuals are better able to know whether they qualify for benefits. You know, we think we should try to do more of that and try to do more of that experimentation with respect to loan repayment as well. And you know, I think we're not quite there yet. But you know, I think we're beginning to have conversations that haven't been had before between our Department of Education and the Department of Treasury to explore the possibilities there.
This is from Twitter too. I think their first sentence is written into some sort of Twitter language. So if I read it--
Are there a lot hashtags?
Yeah. 21.18 percent cohort default rates and some for profit schools. I don't know if that's a question or--but, at what point do we shut them down or cut them out of federal aid?
Yes, I mean we believe we need to cut them out of some point of federal aid. You know, that is the whole premise behind again for employment regulation. And again, I can't speak to the details of that in terms of the thresholds. You know, we had a rule that we were very proud to promulgate as an administration on this. And you know, I think fortunately that rule would have not only had the effective of making sure that we were failing to provide the financial aid to the worse programs that clearly are bad actors of the sector. Because that level of default is just, you know, over 20 percent default rate. But--and also I think potentially it has the effect of the broader sector of Career College programs improving their performance. And again, you know, federal regulation sometimes has this impact of if it's crafted in a thoughtful way of raising the bar and helping to improve the performance of other actors that may not be subject to the sanction. But that--see that coming and know that there's a drive to get better and a need to do better. We believe that that's needed particularly in this sector for the very issue that I mentioned in my remarks so that the default rates are so high.
So I'm encouraging colleges to cut cost. So one way that colleges will cut cost is to increase the share of faculty or part time low paid adjuncts? And this seems likely to erode quality. How will the emphasis on affordability prevent colleges from cutting waiver cost at the potential? So will it--will this--encouraging them to maybe to hire more part time faculty possibly erode teaching quality and have an adverse effect from what you're going for?
Well, you know, I think this is similar to one of the earlier questions as well, which is that we need to keep our eye on quality here. And this can't be a tradeoff in the name of affordability that compromises the quality of instruction or education at our institutions. And it's a challenge. I mean it's really on a--I'll be honest, you know, I mean making sure that we are--we have the right measures to know that our students are receiving a high quality education. You know, we have our outcome data post graduation, that's the best and most reliable thing that we can look toward right now. But, you know, we know that there are tremendous benefits to a great higher education including the great liberal arts education that I received here. So, you know, we don't want to curtail that. And, you know, we need to keep an eye on making sure that we have good labor practices across our education sector, that's something that this President is very focused on and very supportive of.
I believe the percentage of low income students attending to college would and should be much higher than it currently is. However, how do you convince colleges from a business standpoint that creating programs to recruit these students is a good idea as low income students would be bringing in less money to the school? And they need more aid in the form of institutional grants and loans?
That's a great question. You know, it gets to the premise of shared responsibility here. And it's not just around recruitment, it's actually around enrollment and completion. You know, because we have actually some really good recruitment programs and practices across our institutions, particular in a number of our selective institutions including the University of Michigan does a fine job of recruiting our low income students. You know, we also need to collectively share our best practice around making sure that we're retaining all the students and that they are completing at our institutions of higher education. And that is another area where we want to really invest an innovation and bring forth what's working well at our colleges and universities. It helps scale those types of practices at our institutions. But, you know, ultimately we believe that we need to have real commitments here from our institutions of higher education to take those students, you know, when you have real honest conversation. And again, I'm not really advancing new policies in the space today in this conversation. But I do believe we need a national conversation around admissions, you know, we need national conversation around retention, we need a discussion around those types of tradeoffs around packaging aid. And, you know, we have right now a situation where if an institution is well and out and it has a real commitment to the diversity, it has the ability and the will to be able to make more pathways available for more low income students. Then others institutions sometimes do, you know. And then we have a question of public education for the public good. And public higher education for the public good, which is something that I think, and I hope we us a country have a conversation about in this higher education reauthorization because, the strength of our public colleges and universities is that it has to be able to serve all our individuals. And particularly be that pathway for our low income and first generation college course to be successful. So, you know, I don't have a perfect answer for that. But, you know, I think there is--it's a question of will, both political will of the institution of its board of regions of its leadership of the state. And then it also means to implement programs and practices, both recruitment and retention that are successful.
I think we have time for one more. How's the administration looking at the--into the quality of K-12 preparation in terms of college success?
So, you know, we have forged ambitious agenda to really improve the quality of our elementary and secondary education system over the course of the first terms. This is another lecture which could be another couple hours. But, you know, ultimately we've really launched a new national effort to helps support state in a new partnership around racing standards, so that they actually prepare students for college and career level work. I don't think the public fully appreciates where we were with respect to college and career readiness as a system. We had standards that, you know, were defined by 50 states and, you know, curriculum, obviously, that's define by, you know, over 15,000 school board. So, we have a very desperate system. But we need--if are to be successful in preparing our students for college, we need to begin with the expectation that they must graduate, each and everyone of them college ready. And that's college ready at a level of learning that prepares them for entrance into a four year college without the need for remediation. So, we had states that were setting standards, let's take seventh grade math for instance, at levels that were 70--of mastery, levels of mastery that were 70 points below neighboring states. All right, that's over two grade levels worth of learning in terms of what's expected first students to be successful, just illustrative in middle school math. We are not going to be competitive as a country if we are having that level of variation and that a student zip code determines the level of mastery, at which here she is expected to attain. So, we have launched a raise to the top and we've supported a new reform and redesign of the No Child Left Behind Act with new flexibility agreements with our states, to be able to recalibrate these systems--these state systems to college and career readiness. And I think once we're able to really raise those expectations for all of our students. So, that they are competing in earnest with student across the globe rather than learning at a level that--of mastery that is really substandard. Only then will we really be able to get were we need to go with respective preparing all of our students for college.
It's told we have time for one more.
So there's the last one here. In rating systems we'd like long run measure--we would like long run measures like earnings because we think that the short one measures might not accurately reflect the quality of the school. It doesn't look like we will have those in our rating system when it starts. How will the system get around something like that?
Well, you know, I think we're going to need to look at the measures that are at our avail. I don't want to predetermine what specific metrics will be in the system nor how they will interact because that is something that is still under development, careful development by our administration. And it is something that we're going to be seeking public comment on and advice some technical experts about--I will say that, you know, I think we need to look at as reliable data as we can find with respect to earnings and postgraduate outcomes. And we're hopeful that we will have some good long term data to be able to look at. I don't know whether it's going to be reliable and comparable across every institution. But we're going to keep our eye on that and, you know, we're going to look to the support and help of experts to grant how that might be calibrated into a broader system.
Thank you very much.
Thank you Roberto.
[ Applause ]
Paula Stephan, Irv Salmeen, Carl Simon: Too Many Scientists?
What's gone wrong in Washington, and why it doesn't have to be this way
U.S. foreign policy towards Israel and the Middle East
[ Applause ]
I will be introducing assistant secretary Bersin more fully in just a few moments. But first, I really wanted to share with you a little bit of background about the Rosenthal Lecture and why this event has particular importance to the Ford School. Josh Rosenthal was a 1979 graduate of the University of Michigan. He went on to earn a Masters Degree in Public Policy from Princeton University. He was passionate about world affairs and he worked in a field of international finance. He died in the attacks on September 11th on the World Trade Center. Josh mother, Marilyn Rosenthal was a long time Michigan faculty member and she very much wanted to shape in a positive way meaning from what happened on 9/11. And so to honor her son's optimism about the world and about how mutual understanding, dialogue and analysis can help to improve communities both within the United States and beyond our borders, she helped us to launch this lecture. Marilyn and others established the Josh Rosenthal education fund which enables the Ford School to bring leading public policy figures to in arbor [phonetic] every September. And I know that there are some members of the Rosenthal family who are here with us and I wanted to say thank you for joining us. We really appreciate your ongoing support and the inspiration that it brings to our community. Marilyn Rosenthal died in 2007 but I know she would have been really pleased by our speaker this year and she would have wanted to extend a very warm welcome to a distinguished public servant, Assistant Secretary Alan Bersin. Prior to a service with the current administration, President Clinton appointed Mr. Bersin to serve as the US Attorney for Southern District of California. He later served as superintendent of public education in San Diego under Governor Schwarzenegger. He's has a varied and very extensive public service career clearly. In 2009, he was appointed by President Obama as Assistant Secretary and Special Representative for Border Affairs in the Department Of Homeland Security. And in 2012, he was sworn in as the Department Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Chief Diplomatic Officer. Mr. Bersin graduated by Beta Kappa from Harvard with the degree in government. He was a Rhodes Scholar and he holds a degree as well from Yale Law School and I understand that in addition to those academic accolades was an all star athletes and is a member of Harvard's Varsity Club Hall of Fame. So, many, many ways in which has contributed and has a--had a very, very background. Mr. Bersin has expressed his eagerness to take questions from the audience as part of this event. And so, at around 5 o'clock, Ford School staff will come down the aisles to pick up question cards and I hope all of you received cards or you can write questions on a piece of paper if you like. Professor Ann Lynn [assumed spelling] will help to select questions along with two Ford School students, Brian McMillan and Diana Won [assumed spelling]. And so, we look forward to that part of the program and again, do encourage you to contribute your questions as well. So, with that, we move on to the main part of our program. Please join me in welcoming Assistant Secretary Alan Bersin.
[ Pause ]
Thank you Dean for that gracious introduction and I am honored to be here for the Josh Rosenthal Lecture. And I understand my obligation and then reciprocally yours is to consistent with the desires of the professor Rosenthal of this school to make some positive meeting from what happened on 9/11. And yesterday, as we commemorated the 12th anniversary of that faithful day, I was out at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Cheltenham, Maryland, in Clinton, Maryland, the town of Cheltenham, and met with federal law enforcement officers to actually take note of the day. And the pain had not diminished. But in fact, as we move in time a way we begin, we to see more clearly what we could not see that morning. So, we observed that seven--at 8:43, a moment of silence to commemorate the striking of the North Tower by that first plane. I was a school superintendent now in California with 6:43 in a social study's teacher called me and said, "Mr. Bersin turn on the television set, a plane has struck the World Trade Center." And the first reaction that I had and many of us had was it was an accident that someone there have been a pilot area [phonetic] of monumental portions. And then, of course 20 minutes later and yesterday we observed the striking the South Tower. And with that, we realized that the world had changed perhaps forever. Although, we were not certain at that point exactly what those changes might be. What I'd like to do today is consistent with the purpose of the lecture is to examine a changes in a way we see the world particularly with regard to the movement of people and goods. The theme of the talk is "Managing Global Borders and Defensive Big Data". It's timely given the Edward Snowden disclosers recently to understand the role of Big Data in managing border flows and while I will not in the context of the address or the remarks discuss a Section 702 of the FISA Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has I learned from reading several of the transcripts. This is not a shy crowd. And in the context of questions and answers would be delighted to respond as best I can to your inquiries. But the point dealt is Big Data. We know we lived in Big Data. This is a not question that saying "Somehow we could wish a way Big Data." Big Data controls much of what we now do in the area of scientific research. The progress that we've made in genetics and in mapping the genomes a lot of that is the massive power of computations that's now available in the crunching of data, much of what took place in the 2012 Election was a function of the use of Big Data in analyzing electrical trends, and electrical constituencies. So, when we looked at and as I discussed with you the notion of Big Data in managing the movement of passengers and cargo, we will start there but must understand that it's part of a much larger phenomenon in today's world. So, 50 years ago, and a book that I command that I'm very spare and the books that I command. Thomas Kuhn wrote a book called "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions". It's the book that gave rise to determine paradigm often now a hackly term but one that is useful and describing a way of seeing of the world, the way of taking a data and actually organizing into pattern so that you can begin to explain phenomenon around you. And he applied that in the history of science to, for example, he used the Ptolemaic age which was the age in which human beings believed that the earth was the center of the universe. And it was in that age that somehow the Egyptians three to 4,000 years ago built the pyramids, a very arrogant statement of the human--of the human condition particularly at that early point in history. And then Kuhn goes into point out that when the Copernican Revolution pointed out that in fact the sun is the center of the Solar System, there was a reduction in the self conception of man.
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The old model of information sharing in data exchange was that I take my data, I put it in to a dump truck, I backed it up into your database, and give the data to you, and then you run and mind that data without any knowledge on my part of what you are doing with that data.
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Managing global borders the defense of Big Data. I've offered that to you and think probably there are some challenging questions. But let me take a quick look at the--of the text to see if there's anything else I want to put on the table before you come at me.
[ Laughter ]
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No. I think the propositions have been stated and they now need to be challenged. Thank you very much for this opportunity. I deeply appreciate it.
[ Applause ]
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So, the first question is do you believe our borders are secure, why? And how can we further improve our national security?
At least three contexts we can take that up and in the context of the current Comprehensive Immigration debate which I am deeply involved and not as deeply as a very dear Michigan related person, Cecilia Munoz but I'm honored to work her office. The border security issue on the land border, I'll take up at last which is the one that's been the focus in the immigration debate. The air borders, I believe that the systems that we have elaborated and that I've discussed that somewhat today with you is secure. Like aviation security is not always a threat because Al-Qaeda continues to remain preoccupied with blowing up airplanes. So, we need to be vigilant but I believed we've put in play systems. But the problem always in the security challenges that you always are preparing for the last incident and you've got to get ahead of it and look to the next incident. It's a little bit like the generals who prepare for the last war when they should be looking ahead to the next military challenge. Sea--the seaports through the operation of the United States Coast Guard with help as necessary from the United States Navy and state local authorities that are charged with protecting the river ports such as the Detroit River, with Windsor, or the littoral sections of the country, I believe of the defense is satisfactory. The one that is given rise to debate in the immigration context is what--what is the state of the US-Mexican Border? Even more so, considerably more so than the condition of the US-Canada Border. The answer there is in here. I've actually lived this. I wish for each of you the opportunity to start something in public life and have the stamina to actually see not only the beginning but the end. And with the enactment of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, which we believe will occur, we will see a change in the nature of the border. But in every metric, by every metric that you could use, the border is more secure than it has ever been. And I've seen this. I lived the last 20 years and worked in--on the US-Mexican Border in Tijuana, San Diego. In 1993, when I became the United States attorney in the so-called borders are in the Clinton Administration, we arrested 565,000 people, Mexicans trying to enter the United States illegally. The high point on the whole US-Mexican Border was the year 2000 when 1.6 million of Mexican migrants were arrested for crossing into the United States illegally. The difference is that in 1993, and now, last year, the numbers bound to 350,000, and many of those are repeat [phonetic]. The difference is that in 1993, every one of those 565,000 people who are arrested actually ultimately made it into the United States by trying again. Last year, by any measure, the fee charge by smugglers, the reports from the migrants themselves, it is not so easy to enter the United States illegally. And the decrease in the number shows that. The crime rates in border regions are the lowest they've been in 30 years. Four of the 10 safest cities in the United States are on the border, El Paso, San Diego, Austin and Phoenix, Arizona. So, is the border secure? The problem of law enforcement metrics is that you never know how many trees have fallen in the forest when no one is there to hear them or see them. But the number of people coming into the United States illegally is down and will remain down. And I would say that the greatest bipartisan achievement, which needs the party, seems willing to take credit for in the bipartisan way. The greatest bipartisan achievement over the last generation is the securing and the restoration of the rule of law for the US-Mexican Border. Done in the Clinton Administration, the Bush Administration, and done decisively so in the Obama Administration. We have spent 18 billion dollars a year on border law enforcement. That is more than we spent on the rest of federal law enforcement combined. So, is the border sealed? No. Is it secure? I believed--I believed so.
Good afternoon Secretary Bersin. My name is Brian McMillan. I'm a first year here at the Ford School Public Policy. And I decide to ask this question because I think it speaks to a situation a lot us have been through at one point or another, specifically our airports and working with TSA.
Well, first I would argue with the proposition that they're entirely subjective because the whole point of law enforcement rules and regulations is that they give guidance and set frameworks for officers who are supposed to be exercising discretion within those frameworks and they are designed rules. Now, I probably should--TSA is one of the agencies, obviously, that was part of DHS when it was established. They typically would not confiscate food or beef jerky. Ordinarily, I should say, it take responsibility rather than jump on TSA, which seems to be a popular past time. I should probably own up as a former Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection than it was probably accustomed as a Border Protection Officer that confiscated your beef jerky. So, first, we look--the--but here is the rationale for it. So, when DHS was established, and for the first time, we created a Joint Border Management Agency, we took the immigration authorities from justice and the customs authorities that were in the Department of Treasury and combined them with the Agricultural Inspection Services from the Department of Agriculture so that every CBP officer now exercises agriculture authorities, customs authorities, and immigration authorities. And the rule is that, coming from abroad, you cannot bring food into the United States. Now, the argument, which I think is probably a good one, and I don't know the specifics on it, is that beef jerky is not likely to be carrying harmful insects or the kinds of contaminants that would represent a threat to our crop lands, which is the purpose for the agricultural inspection. But assuming for a moment that beef jerky is on the list, that's why it would've been confiscated by CBP. But I think--let's assume for a moment, just for argument's sake, that it wasn't on the list and that a judgment was being made by officers on the street or on, at the port, is that an entirely subjective exercise of discretion? And, you know, ladies and gentlemen, the fact of the matter is every time a law enforcement officer in whatever sphere exercises her or his authority. They're making a judgment, a discretionary judgment. So, that arrests, is there a probably cause of the stop and frisk issue on Reasonable Suspicion raises that. So yes, there is a concern but I would not go so far as to say these are entirely subjective and that every officer is making up his or her rulebook as he--or as they proceed. I'm going to find out where the beef jerky is on the list.
[ Laughter ]
Sorry for not properly introducing myself earlier. My name is Diana Won and I'm also a first year MPP student here at the Ford School. Assistant Secretary Bersin, an international student would like to know how the US Government can be trusted by other countries if it spies not only its enemies but also its allies and friends. How can the U.S. Government build trust and positive relationships with its neighbors and friends if it tapes the conversations of presidents, heads of state, including those that are the close friends of the US as in Mexico and Brazil specifically, and not only the presidents but also the presidential candidates?
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So, in the film--in the film Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart--in fact that some of my younger colleagues, I have never seen Casablanca. I recommend that along with Thomas Cook [assumed spelling]. In the movie, Humphrey Bogart plays an American who runs a restaurant in North Africa. And the Nazis have taken over North Africa. And of course it's one place in town where you can do things that are not acceptable in a polite society or under the law. And in one part of the movie, the French police, the Vichy police operating with the cooperation of the Gestapo raids Rick's [assumed spelling] restaurant or his place of business. And then confronted with what they've found, and Rick says, "Gambling? Gambling taking place here? I'm shocked." And of course, he was running the largest gambling operation in North Africa. So, here is the--here's the problem. I'm not--I understand that the slogan [phonetic] disclosures have created a real issue in terms of not just the big data. Although, I hope I've at least started the debate in your minds if you had question about big data operates in the security realm. But this idea of spying on one another, espionage against countries is actually more of the rules than the exception. And we're not the only ones who have done that, or would do that. Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue.
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But in fact, of I believe that this series of disclosures will lead to discussions and already have about ground rules and if my points earlier today about globalization and the collision of the Westphalian system with the globalize world, it seems to me that those discussions need to be hand. There are countries in which there are understandings about limits. I think those discussions could be had more broadly and probably will.
Our next question has to do with the security of big data. And if the government is going to use big data, how can it protect technology from being--the technology from being hacked or cracked. And then the follow up question would be, does the US shares its data with other countries, and if so, how can we ensure its security?
So, limiting my answer to the area that I know and I know as unclassified. On commercial data, we do have arrangements in which data relating to passengers and cargo will be shared with those countries with whom we had agreements providing for that kind of exchange. On the security issue, there is a obligation with regard to all of the travel data and all of the cargo data that's maintained by DHS are their two obligations. One is that we maintain it in confidence and the second is that we use it only for the purpose for which it was collected. And that in the context of DHS has been maintained in part because of the privacy protection is built in and the discussions that those who collect the data, analyze it, and disseminate it must do it in concert with the privacy office and the privacy impact statements that are required. The technological security is a constant concern and particularly up now, considerable effort is being made to build in security against hacking. And to date, that data has not been--has not been--data security system has not been breached.
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In line with this question is also about big data. So, why isn't the US using CCTV moderating--monitoring like the UK to increase security?
In certain areas in the United States, that kind of monitoring of street life and traffic patterns is being done. New York City increasingly relies on CCTV monitoring. Most industrial sites and business sites now involve the monitoring. The discovery of the Tsarnaev brothers in the--in that 7-eleven store in Boston was a function of CCTV monitoring. The issue that is in the back of all minds is where are the limits? And I suggest that when it comes to participation in the modern world. Whether in the business or social capacity that we have court cases that are quite well-established that define through the 4th amendment what the limits on law enforcement are with regard to the monitoring act of activities. And those cases provide a rich tapestry of rules that I think protect us. The more difficult issues are the ones involving cyber and internet that we see now with regard to commercial firms that monitor our communications and actually look at the substance and then send us advertisements, ads that are based on insights picked up from monitoring communications in the commercial sense. So that if I'm interested in buying a piece of furniture and I mentioned that in an email to my wife. I suddenly end up with ads for furniture in my inbox. I'm prepared to argue that is an invasion, speaking personally that I would like to say something about. So, these are the issues though, that why the Ford School of Public Policy is in such an interesting place along with other think tanks and universities around the world. These are issues that are not going away and as I hope I persuaded you in the course of the lecture that the historic American reconciliation of them needs to be looked at. We may yet go back to them, but we certainly need to review them.
Our next question once again touches on security and protection at airports. With everything being done in regards to clearing airport security before boarding, is it possible to complete this process reaching the airport? And pre-clear customs before boarding similar to what they're currently do in Canada.
So there are two kinds of screening, right, that we're talking about. One is screening against known threats, that is to say when you indicate you're flying to London or flying to Beijing with a car, your name is run against a series of watch lists that on which did place people who were known or suspected to be affiliated with terrorist activities or transnational criminal organizations. That's one form of screening. And that, for the most part is done before you arrive at the airport. Because when you've come to the airport if you are on this so called, "No Fly List", the airline representative will not permit you to actually board the plane or obtain a boarding pass. So that happens before you arrive at the airport. The other screening is a physical screening. The screening that's done by the Transportation Security Administration that looks to see whether or not there are metallic or non-metallic substances and that cannot be done until you actually get to the airport. And your carry ons as your luggage and your person is inspected in as non-intrusively manner as possible.
On that note talking about privacy and security, someone had a comment that says, "Instead of the tradeoff between privacy and security maybe we have a tradeoff now between privacy and freedom. Now we have the freedom to travel on airplanes, trains and other public transformation without being killed but we have lost our privacy as a result. Can you speak to this idea?"
[ Pause ]
That's this, you know, I talked about the clash between the Westphalian system and globalization. Modern life, the instantaneous dimensions of modern life, the digitization of modern communications, the effective--the [inaudible] presence of others, electronically or personally certainly to Benjamin Franklin would definitely feel as though liberty had eroded. But Benjamin Franklin also is the one who discovered electricity. And he would have appreciated--he would have appreciated the advances that technology have brought. He would have appreciated the fact that in the modern world unlike the world that I was going up in in the late 1950's and the early 60's in which three percent of the world's population was middleclass. Today, 40 percent of the world has the opportunities that didn't past. We can find and restricted to 1/10 that number. And the trend line--the trend line is up. One need only looked at the transformation of East Asia or the Indian subcontinent. And now, again, one could understand what's happening in the Middle East, in the Arab world, the Lavon [phonetic], the Milgram [phonetic], the Arabian Peninsula to understand that is being a expansion of possibility. So, yeah, I think in certain ways of freedom has been restricted. But I think for every way in which our freedom is been restricted, it is been expanded in multiple ways. Think about the access provided by an iPhone. Think about the possibilities inherent in the jet engine. Freedom--Freedom is actually not in my--so if you ask, and if you push me hard enough, I don't think--I feel is there possibilities exist and freedom is expanded in my personal context and for my family recognizing that there are certain ways in which we need to safeguard liberties that are critical to us, and it could be threatened if we don't pay attention to them. And I think about Benjamin Franklin in words or substance [phonetic], he said something like the following, "That those who permit the sacrifice of basic elements of liberty for little bit of safety will end up losing both their safety and their liberty." So I'm aware of that tension, too and I appreciate the questioner's concern. It's one--it's a question we should not stop asking ourselves. But on balance, I think I've rather alive in the 21st century than the 14th.
[ Laughter ]
Our last question today should be a little bit easier for you to answer. What kind of advice would you give policy students were interested in pursuing career in Homeland Security?
Yeah. So, I was talking to the Dean earlier today about exactly that. The Homeland Security, I started out public service in the Justice Department.
Just kind of as an ending note. This is more fun than policy related. But who do you cheer for Harvard or Yale?
[ Laughter ]
And which sports did you play?
So, this is interesting Ford. The dean mentioned and usually I don't talk about it. But 40 years ago and 55 pounds heavier, I was pretty good football player, not Michigan style.
[ Laughter ]
Although, I did have my moments, but when went to law school--
[ Laughter ]
When I went to law school, I actually played--I coached the Yale team and it was one that permitted graduates assumes to play. And so I'm probably the only person--I'm probably the only person and this will--some Martian graduate student will find a little footnote is that I'm probably the only person who played for Harvard, and beat Yale, and played for Yale, and beat Harvard.
[ Laughter ]
And my loyalty is--I think I'll leave it there.
[ Laughter ]
Thank you very much. It's been a pleasure.
[ Applause ]
Well, I like to thank Alan Bersin for his very thoughtful perspective for sharing his views on a very timely challenging and important topic. I'd also like to thank all of you for some very interesting and thoughtful questions as well. Thank you for joining us this afternoon. I hope that you will visit our website and continue to come to future policy talks at the Ford School. A week from today, next Thursday, we are pleased to host former Senator Olympia Snowe and I invite you to come and join for that. We can continue this conversation outside of the auditorium in the Great Hall. We have a reception and I hoped that you will stay. And with that, before I ask for a final thank you for our speaker, I do have to note a commonality with President Ford who of course helped to coach the Yale Football Team as well. And so, part of our extended community, a special thank you from that regard. So please join me in a final thank you to Alan Bersin.
Thank you. I appreciate. Thank you.
[ Applause ]
[ Silence ]
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