POSTED: Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 6:00pm
UPDATED: Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 6:04pm
BATON ROUGE, LA — In order to gather public input about the Obama Administration’s proposals to address rising college costs and make college more affordable for American families, the U.S. Department of Education has announced its plan to hold a public forum at LSU on Thursday, Nov. 21, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.
In a Federal Register notice that published today, the department announced that it will host four public forums across the country, including LSU’s forum taking place at the Lod Cook Alumni Center. For more on the forum at LSU, visit http://www.lsu.edu/forum .
The four forums will coincide with the department’s upcoming Request for Information, or RFI, to ask experts to weigh in on methods for creating a college ratings system that would better inform students and encourage institutions to improve.
“One of the best ways to address the challenges to our higher education system is through shared input,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “We plan to engage as many stakeholder groups and individuals as possible to help us develop proposals that are useful to students and takes into account the diversity of America’s colleges and universities.”
The open forums are designed to offer the opportunity for members of the public to provide feedback and input on the department’s proposals, as well as to hear the input of others. In addition to the forum being held at LSU, other forums will take place Nov. 6 at The California State University-Dominguez Hills, Nov. 13 at George Mason University and Nov. 15 at Northern Iowa University. Specific details about each public forum will provided later.
“We are pleased that LSU was selected to host such an important event in helping to shape the future of higher education in the country,” said LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander. “We look forward to the discussion on higher education policy and the college value scorecard.”
The public forums will build on the Department of Education’s outreach activities already underway. Since the president’s announcement in August of a new college affordability and value plan, Secretary Duncan and department officials have participated in events across the country to hear suggestions and concerns. Officials have traveled to Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C., to speak with groups like the American Association of State Colleges and Universities; the Historically Black Colleges and University Presidents’ Board of Advisors; the American Council on Education; independent college groups in Massachusetts and California; and more.
Alexander also participated in the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, where he presided over a presidential forum on “Ratings, Quality and Educational Innovation: A Conversation with Martha Kanter.” Alexander will also present at the Association of Public Land Grant University’s annual meeting taking place in Washington, D.C., Nov. 10-12.
In addition to the hosting the forums, the Department of Education will continue to participate in outreach events like roundtable discussions, town hall conversations and meetings with key stakeholders.
In the coming weeks, the department will also formally ask data experts and researchers to weigh in on the college ratings system through an RFI. Early next year, the department will host a technical symposium where external experts can engage in further discussion and deliberate on these issues in greater depth. The department will then publish a summary of the recommendations that were developed as a result of the RFI and the symposium, as well as other resources identified by external experts participating in the symposium, on the department’s college affordability and completion website, www.ed.gov/college-affordability . The department will use the feedback it receives to inform the development of proposed college rating metrics, which it will share in the spring for public comment.
The open forums are free and open to the public. Individuals desiring to present comments or feedback at an open forum must register by sending an email at least three days prior to the open forum to email@example.com  with the subject “Open Forum Registration.” Each participant will be limited to five minutes for comments. The department will notify registrants of the location and time slot reserved for them. An individual may make only one presentation at the open forums. Walk-in registrations will also be accepted for any remaining time slots on a first-come, first-served basis at the department’s on-site registration table.
For those unable to attend the forums in person, their ideas may also be submitted online, by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org , or by mail to the U.S. Department of Education headquarters in Washington, D.C. Transcripts from the open forums will be made available on the department’s college affordability and completion website, www.ed.gov/college-affordability , shortly after each event. More information on the president’s plan to improve college value and affordability is available on this site, as well as additional details on upcoming open forums, town hall meetings, and roundtable discussions across the country.
If someone wishes to testify and use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or text telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339 for more information.