Proxy War On Career Colleges

Career College Central summary:

  • A proxy war over the regulation of for-profit colleges is being waged in the editorial pages of The New York Times. In the last week the newspaper has published four opinion pieces that touch on federal oversight of the industry — two in favor of tightening the screws and two (by the same columnist) defending for-profits for their role in educating underserved students.
  • The flurry of punditry comes just before the U.S. Department of Education is expected to release its final draft "gainful employment" rules for vocational programs at for-profits and community colleges. It also relates to broader debates over how to treat the for-profit sector in President Obama's proposed college rating system and in the eventual Congressional reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. As a result, both critics and supporters of the industry appear to have pled their case to the gatekeepers of what is arguably America's most prominent forum for debate.
  • On Saturday the Times ran an excerpt from a new book by Suzanne Mettler, a professor of history at Cornell University. Mettler's book is titled Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream. In the excerpt she takes Congress to task for the "polarized plutocracy" that led to its support of for-profits, which she notes are heavily dependent on government funding.
  • Advocates for the career college sector have gained some support in the newspaper, however. Marc Jerome is president of Monroe College, a small for-profit with campuses in the Bronx and New Rochelle, N.Y. He was also on a federally appointed negotiating team that failed to reach consensus in December on proposed gainful employment metrics. Jerome landed a prominent role in a sympathetic opinion piece that Eduardo Porter, a Times columnist, wrote last week. Porter wrote that Monroe's graduation rates beat that of nearby community colleges. Monroe also fares well on job placement and loan default rates, Porter reported.

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