Advice for Duncan

The University Chancellor

William E.
William E. "Brit" Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland.
Monday, January 12, 2009; 12:00 AM

Chicago public schools chief Arne Duncan goes before a Senate committee on Tuesday for a confirmation hearing. To help him set priorities, Post reporter Valerie Strauss asked folks in the education world to provide their best advice on key issues. Here is a response from William E. "Brit" Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland.

I urge the new secretary of education to work to ensure that the federal stimulus package includes funds that will raise the maximum Pell Grant to at least $5,500, thereby increasing affordable access to higher education. In addition, the package should provide funds to support the infrastructure at our nation's primary and secondary schools as well as colleges and universities, with a particular focus on research facilities; the work at these facilities has a strong and positive impact on our country's competitiveness.

Additionally, I encourage the secretary, in consultation with the higher education community, to launch an initiative to simplify and streamline the federal financial aid process. The complex and confusing nature of the current process is a disincentive to many families.

I also would advise the secretary, working in partnership with the states, to expand Head Start and other pre-school programs to ensure that every child from low-income families begins kindergarten ready to learn. Also working with the states, the secretary should ensure the alignment of high school exit and college entrance requirements."

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