The United States Department of Education yesterday denied AJCongress' petition to change regulations for the awarding of grants under Title VI of the Higher Education Act that have led to anti-Israel and anti-U.S. bias in the program, contending that existing regulations give the Department sufficient authority to cope with the problem. According to the Departmental letter to AJCongress, the Department of Education is in the process of instituting a new Monitoring and Performance Tracking System to ensure that the goals of Title VI are met.
In an October 29 letter to American Jewish Congress Executive Director Neil Goldstein, Assistant Secretary for Higher Education Sally Stroup admitted that there was a problem with the Title VI program, while insisting that there was no need to revise funding criteria.
"This is a victory for our position in that Secretary Stroup acknowledges the problem with the Title VI program," said Neil Goldstein, AJCongress' executive director. "Unfortunately, we do not share Secretary Stroup's optimism about the ability of the Department of Education to fix what's broken. That's why we remain enthusiastic supporters of HR 3077, the bill to repair the Title VI program which has already passed the House of Representatives."
Title VI authorizes federal funding of Middle East language and study centers at universities who conduct workshops for teachers of primary and secondary schools. The AJCongress petition sought to revise funding criteria in response to reports of anti-Israel and anti-American content in program materials prepared by National Resource Centers.
On June 30th, AJCongress leaders met at the Department of Education with Assistant Secretary of Education for Higher Education, Sally Stroup, at her request, in response to our rule-making petition submitted by Lois Waldman of the AJCongress legal department asking the Department to change the criteria for awarding grants pursuant to Title VI.
"Today's letter from Assistant Secretary Stroup should be seen as a signal that both the executive branch and Congress acknowledge that there is a problem with the Middle East seminars for teachers run through the Title VI program," Mr. Goldstein said. "Too often, these seminars offer only one-sided anti-American and anti-Israel versions of the historical record. In rejecting our petition, the Department of Education did not deny the existence of the problems we have painstakingly documented and brought to their attention. Instead, Secretary Stroup has written that "current selection criteria…already sufficiently address the AJC[ongress'] concern."
"The letter is also a rebuke to those in the education community who argue that there is no problem and who oppose HR 3077," Mr. Goldstein said. "The Education Department acknowledges the core problem raised by AJCongress while protesting that it can resolve the matter internally with no further outside help."