More than 40 higher-education leaders from across the country asked Congress Dec. 16 to commit 5 percent of any economic stimulus program to the nation’s colleges and universities, reports the Washington Post. The educators, including University of Virginia President John Casteen III and Chancellor William E. Kirwan of the University System of Maryland, published an open letter in newspapers warning that state budget cuts have harmed the public educational enterprise that is at the heart of the nation’s long-term security. "For the first time in our history, the cohort of Americans ages 25 to 34 is less well educated than the older cohorts that preceded it," the letter says. "We cannot accept such dangerous signs that our future prosperity and security will be weaker than our past." President-elect Barack Obama has called for a massive package of government spending to jump-start the economy, and congressional Democrats are hoping to have one ready for him to sign when he takes office Jan. 20. The open letter is likely to be well-received in the House, where the Appropriations Committee is taking a leading role in writing the legislation. Its chairman, Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.), has long advocated increased resources for higher education. Congressional sources said that some of the stimulus package likely will be directed to higher education, although the amount might not reach 5 percent…

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