Today, the Kentucky News Democrat & Leader published an op-ed by the Attorney General of Kentucky, Jack Conway, in which he discusses his investigation into seven for-profit colleges in the state. Since the investigation began late last year, Conway’s efforts have, unsurprisingly, been met with opposition by the for-profit schools in the state, which have likened his investigation to "an assault."
"Quite frankly, the industry’s response to our investigation has been very disappointing," says Conway. "For-profit schools should acknowledge and work to correct the well-documented issues involving high student loan default rates, overaggressive recruiting practices, misleading advertising and high student withdrawal rates."
State investigations have picked up speed in the past several months, and Conway reports in the piece that 18 states are now engaged in a joint effort, led by Conway, to examine industry abuses. (Earlier this year, news reports said that eleven state attorneys general were part of this effort, so it clearly is growing.) That is an encouraging development in the face of continued industry opposition to accountability. Despite the somewhat diluted nature of the final gainful employment rule issued by the Department of Education in early June, opponents of gainful employment have not let up their fight. Just last week, the House Subcommittee on Education and Workforce Training held a hearing not-so-subtly titled “The Gainful Employment Regulation: Limiting Job Growth and Student Choice."The hearing, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC saw testimony from several witnesses, including head of the National Black Chamber of Commerce Harry Alford – who called the gainful employment rule ‘racial’ and ‘evil’ in an op-ed last week – Dr. Dario A. Cortes, the President of New York for-profit Berkeley College, and student Karla Carpenter, who appeared in an advertisement for the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) one of the biggest opponents of reform.
As we’ve reported extensively here at CampusProgress.org, for-profit colleges spent millions of dollars on advertising and high-powered lobbyists in an attempt to weaken or squash outright the gainful employment regulations. It remains to be seen how much more money and manpower they will pour into such efforts in the coming months.