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Critic of Obama Policies Will Lead Higher-Education Panel in U.S. House

Critic of Obama Policies Will Lead Higher-Education Panel in U.S. House 1

Brendan Hoffman, Getty Images

Rep. Virginia Foxx, a Republican from North Carolina (shown in 2008), says if higher education "can't prove the worth of a program, then it needs to examine itself."

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close Critic of Obama Policies Will Lead Higher-Education Panel in U.S. House 1

Brendan Hoffman, Getty Images

Rep. Virginia Foxx, a Republican from North Carolina (shown in 2008), says if higher education "can't prove the worth of a program, then it needs to examine itself."

U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, a conservative Republican from North Carolina who has questioned some of President Obama's education priorities, will lead the higher-education subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives during the 112th Congress, the congresswoman announced on Tuesday.

Representative Foxx, a former community-college president and professor, said in a statement that she was "excited to roll up my sleeves and work toward making our higher-education system even better while carefully stewarding taxpayer dollars."

In an interview with The Chronicle, Ms. Foxx said she did not seek out the post and does not yet have an agenda. But she implied that she would not shield higher-education programs from spending cuts, and she raised doubts about the need for community colleges to produce five million more graduates with degrees or certificates by 2020, as President Obama has urged.

Asked about Republicans' plans to slash discretionary spending to 2008 levels, Ms. Foxx said higher education "should never be afraid of accountability."

"If it can't prove the worth of a program, then it needs to examine itself," she said. "Wherever taxpayer dollars are being spent, there has to be accountability."

When questioned about whether she supported the president's ambitious graduation goal for community colleges, she said she was "curious to find out what the basis is for the claim that we have to graduate five million more people."

"I don't think the measure of success of a community college is always graduation," she said. "Many times, all people need to learn is a skill and perhaps get certification in an area."

Ms. Foxx has criticized legislation that ended the bank-based program for supplying federal student loans in favor of 100-percent direct lending, in which students obtain their loans from the Department of Education. She said on Tuesday that the bill "eliminated choice, competition, and innovations from student lending," and promised hearings aimed at making "improvements to a very flawed law."

She may also take the lead in Republican efforts to block or overturn recent Education Department rules that could hurt for-profit colleges, though that job could fall to the education committee chairman, John Kline of Minnesota. The most controversial of the rules is the gainful-employment rule, which would cut off federal student aid to programs whose graduates carry high debt relative to income and have low loan-repayment rates.

In the past, Ms. Foxx has been a friend of for-profit colleges. The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, which represents for-profit colleges, donated $3,000 to her 2008 re-election campaign through its political-action committee, and employees of Keiser University gave $2,300. Harris N. Miller, the president of the private-sector association, welcomed Ms. Foxx's appointment, saying she has "shown a lot of interest in our sector."

She has also looked out for her state's large military population, supporting increases in tuition benefits for veterans.

Reputation for Being Outspoken

Molly Corbett Broad, the president of the American Council on Education, said she hoped Representative Foxx's interest in efficiency would translate into support for streamlining burdensome regulations.

Ms. Broad, a former president of the University of North Carolina, described the congresswoman as "accessible, open, and direct in expressing her views."

Among college lobbyists, Ms. Foxx is best known for her support of community colleges and her opposition to the creation of a unit-record system for tracking individual students' educational progress. She was also the only member of the House education committee to vote against final legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act in 2008. Ms. Foxx said on Tuesday that she couldn't remember why she voted against the bill.

Ms. Foxx also has a reputation for being outspoken and has sometimes caused a stir with controversial comments. She once said Americans had more to fear from a health-care overhaul than terrorism, and she has denied that Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming who was killed in 1998, was the victim of a hate crime.

She is among the most conservative members of the House and boasts on her Web site that she was one of just 38 Republicans to score a 100-percent approval rating from the American Conservative Union.

Ms. Foxx grew up poor in the Appalachian Mountains and credits education for her own success. She was elected to Congress in 2004 after spending 10 years in the North Carolina Senate and several years as a professor and an administrator at several North Carolina colleges, including Appalachian State University, Caldwell Community College, and Mayland Community College, where she became president in 1987.

In Congress she joined the education committee in 2005 and left in 2008 to serve on the powerful rules committee. Her appointment to lead the higher-education panel marks her return to the committee.


1. niisai - January 05, 2011 at 06:04 am

wow, she was a college president?

2. 11132507 - January 05, 2011 at 07:41 am

"...support for streamlining burdensome regulations." Yeah, good luck with that. We've seen that before...in the 90's when Republicans controlled the House and Clinton was President, we got Buck McKeon's "Fed Up" initiative, which promised sweeping regulatory relief. Then the Republicans controlled both the House and the White House, and regulatory burdens on higher ed only increased.

3. sbarnett - January 05, 2011 at 08:27 am

She "doesn't remember" why she voted against the bill?

4. rightside - January 05, 2011 at 08:31 am

Are you kidding me? Are you freaking kidding me?
- Hyper fundamentalist?
"We are challenged by Jesus to look after people as individuals, not as a government."
- Vehemently opposed Hate Crimes legislation
- Believes the Health Reform bill is more of a threat to Americans than "any terrorist".

I cannot believe that this woman graduated from college, much less taught at a college. Now she's going to run a committee to oversee higher education? Get ready to re-structure your gen-ed curriculum to emphasize that Adam hunted dinosaurs and that Marxism was invented by Satan.

5. rightside - January 05, 2011 at 08:38 am

To add some context to my "hyper fundamentalist" note above: http://foxx.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=55&parentid=54§iontree=55&itemid=236

The Family Research Council is a notorious fundamentalist lobbying group and was recently added to the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of American hate groups. (http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/family-research-council)

6. bobcat99 - January 05, 2011 at 09:15 am

This is horrifying. She is an embarrassment to my state. End-of-life planning = government death panels. Matthew Shepherd's death was a hoax on the American people. Regularly votes against authorizing higher education funding. Get ready folks.

7. feudi - January 05, 2011 at 09:16 am

Hold on there all you hyperventilating academics! Not one of you can tell me with a straight face that there is not huge waste in higher education. Hell, the administrative overhead cost of ED is in the billions. Now that the feds have taken over the loan programs, expect to see a huge surge in default rates in the next few years as student loans become the next class of toxic assets.
Having said that, I have many problems with Foxx's support of for profit schools. We DO NOT need Pell grants for hairdressing school students, and I don't care if that sounds elitist. We SHOULD NOT be giving Pell grants to convicted felons in prison. We do not need a separate Perkins loan program, or ACG, or SMART, or summer Pell. These are all nightmarish programs to run administratively. They could and should be rolled into Pell with huge savings in administrative cost - but that would mean actually cutting the federal bureaucracy so fat chance under either the Dems or Repubs.

8. mkant69 - January 05, 2011 at 09:37 am

feudi - The ACG and SMART programs sunset this year and will not be extended.

9. lizziec - January 05, 2011 at 09:47 am

We don't need Jesus consulting on the appropriation of higher ed money,... but from what I've read about him, maybe we do.

I can't imagine him advocating for the for-profit education sector. Foisting ungodly sums of student loans on low-capacity students then deliver sub-par materials so that they qualify to make MAYBE a nickel more than they do at the local grocery store, stocking shelves, then hound them til they die for being in default on student loans... none of this tracks with what I think I hear coming out of the Sunday School crowd,... but perhaps that was the Sunday School crowd of a different era.

These modern Fundamentalists seem to know more about hating (gays, other religions), being selfish (not wanting their taxes to pay for things like welfare, or unemployment) and other self-serving agendas than they do about the real messages from their religion... I do believe it was Jesus who commanded his disciples/followers to "Feed the hungry, tend to the sick, clothe the naked and comfort the widow and orphan."

10. alvitap - January 05, 2011 at 10:38 am

It's obvious to me, given the tenor of this discussion, that Virgina Foxx is a Nazi terrorist. Now, everybody goose-step, right-left, right-left, stay in time....Let's get the black guy, check his papers, left-right, left-right ... Stay in time ...

Capitalist colleges are good.
Capitalist healthcare is good.
Capitalist supported military is good.
Capitalist supported government is good.

Hey, HO, what do you know
Virginia Foxx is a capitalist supported .... well, left-right, left-right ... you get the idea. Don't you?

11. indygrl76 - January 05, 2011 at 12:17 pm

She is (obviously) not an academic or intellectual at all. An "ED" is not an academic degree. It's a degree for those who can't hack it in a real discipline. With Foxx, it clearly shows she is a religious fanatic and bigot. Here we go again...

12. 11132507 - January 05, 2011 at 01:04 pm

This appointment is what we can expect out of the Republican party for the next two years. They currently have no desire to govern, only to hand the President a defeat in November 2012. And what better way to do that but to allow extremists like Foxx to be in control; they're out of step not only with the views of most Americans, but certainly out of step with the Senate and the Administration. So for two years, nothing gets done because no one will compromise on anything, then Republicans will continue trying to capitalize on voter anger that "nothing gets done in Washington"...after spending years making sure that nothing gets done is their top priority.

13. softshellcrab - January 05, 2011 at 01:20 pm

One of you writes that she is in an organization classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a "hate group". Oooohhh... who died and made them God? I think MSNBC is a hate group, does that make it a fact? If you want hate, I'll give you hate. Just read the long list above of hateful, vicious attacks by liberal academicians who pride themselves on their open-mindedness.

This appointment is great. Higher education has become a wasteful boondoggle run by academics with a pompous, entitlement mentality. It is good to see the Republican house bring in some healthy questioning of how well higher education is stewarding taxpayer dollars.

14. professormiller - January 05, 2011 at 01:24 pm

FINALLY! Some common sense returning to Washington. Without the GOP, this nation would be lost.

15. 11132507 - January 05, 2011 at 01:49 pm

"Hate" has apparently been given a new definition...it now means "expresses disagreement with conservative opinions."

16. akprof - January 05, 2011 at 01:52 pm

indygirl76's comments about "ED" (I assume you meant EdD) degrees are just as biased as Representative Foxx is on most issues - I wonder what kind of degrees softshellcrab and professormiller, who are obviously supporters of Foxx and the GOP have? With the GOP, this nation may very well be lost!!

17. 11134078 - January 05, 2011 at 01:57 pm

Trying to define "hate" in a social (as opposed to dictionary) context is a tough job. Let's leave the word out of this discussion. Let's start by leaving everything else out too except for Foxx's belief that all student lending should be done by banks. Discuss that for a while. In my view, that is so horrifying that nothing more be said about any of her opinions. We do not need to reach them And by the way, softshellcrab, the Southern Poverty Law Center operates according to strict rules of evidence and does not lightly label any group "hate" or "terrorist" or any such thing without overwhelming evidence.

18. beprepared - January 05, 2011 at 02:20 pm

It's pretty clear who is out of step with the views of most Americans. Does 11132507 really think the public was upset because of a "do nothing" Congress and President??

19. theprofessor42 - January 05, 2011 at 02:26 pm

Great! I hope she stays really conservative and gets the federal government out of the "education" business. I learned more stupid things in undergraduate and graduate university but much, much less when I studied independently, started doing independent research and began going to high-level Bible studies that didn't charge me anything.

20. theprofessor42 - January 05, 2011 at 02:44 pm

The Southern Poverty Law Center is a radical left-wing organization that started off doing good work attacking the KKK and other obvious white supremacist groups but that has become a highly partisan Neo-Marxist organ. Like most of the radical leftists who have taken over the "civil rights movement, it has de-valued the meaning of the terms "racist" and "hate group." It also helped give us Jimmy Carter, probably the worst president America ever had.

21. lizziec - January 05, 2011 at 06:22 pm


'nuf said...

22. lizziec - January 05, 2011 at 06:28 pm

and on education, Ms Foxx again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHvSDkTo2Eg&NR=1

"We should not be funding education, for example..."

23. a_voice - January 05, 2011 at 07:33 pm

"If it can't prove the worth of a program, then it needs to examine itself." I wish she had said that to Bush and company when they decided to make stuff up to go to war in Iraq.

"criticized legislation that ended the bank-based program for supplying federal student loans." Got to feed federal money to those poor banks, you know?

"She has also looked out for her state's large military population". That's money well-spent. Who needs education when we can use weapons to take stuff from other people?

"she couldn't remember why she voted against the bill." Why remember something that is not important to you?

24. jaysanderson - January 06, 2011 at 01:06 pm

Listen to yourselves bicker about democrat or republican--foolishness. If you all are placing all of your hope for the future on politicians of any flavor, you're asking to be disappointed.

25. hafajc - January 06, 2011 at 05:12 pm

"Sniff...sniff...sniff....I have a REAL degree, not one of those fakey "EdD" degrees...I am definitely an elite intellectual...And I never, never....ever, EVER, let my political views influence my opinion in any way. I am purely objective. I am right, and everyone who disagrees with me is wrong. Only me, and those of my ilk know the truth...."

The DEMOs controlled congress for 40+ years....surely then all of education must have been good and great, all gravy, with no problems at all-- and it is only recently the Repub-ics have recently fouled the whole mess up? I would say "Get Real," but getting real would of course conflict with your liberal political viewwpoints.

26. nels4732 - January 07, 2011 at 02:34 pm

Credits education for her own success but doesn't want to fund it now for others...sounds like a typically 'older American', Republican response to funding. I got mine, good luck gettin' yours!

27. mavprof - January 07, 2011 at 06:17 pm

Best wishes and welcome to Chairwoman Foxx for some of her "against the grain" (judging by some of the ignorant and hyperventilated screed levelled at her above) ideas mentioned in the on-the-whole fairly-presented article.

And by the way, "11134078" (horrified supporter of the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center), my PhD was awarded at a flagship state university.

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