Many of our politicians have it backwards these days. It's not a shame to lose an election. But it is a shame to serve a wrong idea -- which is what Republicans while in control of the White House and both houses of Congress, have been doing the past six years in education policy. Most recently, they have been seeking to reauthorize the Higher Education Act of 1965, the first and still the authoritative assertion of the modern bureaucratic state into higher learning.
A product of the Great Society, the Act provides direct aid from the federal government to colleges and universities and their students. With this aid comes rules, rules by the tens of thousands, rules beyond the knowing of any person. Every year these rules are adjusted, refined, forgotten, remembered, and reinterpreted in countless ways by countless people who feed at the public trough. But every five or six years, relatively major changes are made by several pieces of legislation. This is what is meant by reauthorization.
Conservatives, when they argue for school choice (a good cause), like to say that elementary and secondary schools should be financed on the same principles as colleges, where student aid follows the student to whichever school he pleases or prefers. This is true enough, but it is not the aid alone that follows the student. Title IV of the current Higher Education Act regulates colleges that accept federal student financial aid. Title IV includes now more than 300 pages of regulations, and the failure of a senior college official to comply in a material respect can lead to heavy fines and imprisonment.
This treatment of senior college officials seems like a good model for those in the Administration charged with enforcing compliance with the immigration laws.