Elizabeth Baylor, Associate Director of Postsecondary Education at the Center for American Progress, testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Office of Civil Rights Evaluation on April 30, 2015. Below is a summary of her statement.
Thank you, Commissioners, for inviting me to share my statement. My name is Elizabeth Baylor. I am the Associate Director of Postsecondary Education at the Center for American Progress, or CAP, where I have worked for two years. Before coming to CAP, I served on the staff of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions under the leadership of Sen. Tom Harkin (D) from Iowa.
First, I wanted to share a little bit of information about the Center for American Progress. CAP is an independent, nonpartisan policy institute that is dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans through bold, progressive ideas, as well as strong leadership and concerted action. Our aim is not just to change the conversation, but to change the country. As progressives, we believe America is a land of boundless opportunity where people should be able to climb the ladder of economic mobility. We believe we owe it to future generations to protect the planet and promote peace and shared global prosperity. And we believe an effective government can earn the trust of the American people, champion the common good over narrow self-interest, and harness the strength of our diversity.
Today I am here to talk about my work at CAP on improving higher education access and affordability for all young Americans and, in particular, making sure that the educational opportunities for young Americans of color and first-generation college-going students allow them to attend high-quality programs that offer a reasonable chance for academic success. To make sure that our higher education system serves our country well, it is crucial that national policy choices ensure public colleges remain affordable and that student loan debt does not overburden individuals preparing for the workforce.
CAP recommends three policy ideas for improving America’s higher education system so it better serves students of color:
- Increasing the federal and state investments in public colleges
- Guaranteeing that students receive financial aid to pay for college up front
- Making sure students are prepared to do college work and receive support to achieve their academic goals while in college