U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is drawing criticism for siding with a high-profile investor in his push for increased oversight on the for-profit college.
A report from Inside Higher Ed this week scrutinizes Harkin for calling on testimony from Steven Eisman, an investor who has predicted and bet on education corporations’ downfall. Eisman admitted to Harkin during a hearing last month that he has a financial stake in for-profit schools’ failure. But the Senator from Iowa has defended Eisman’s comments, citing the investor’s record of accurate financial forewarning.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington cried foul at Eisman’s congressional testimony on for-profit schooling. “Congressional hearings are intended to air issues of national significance – not line witnesses’ pockets,” executive director Melanie Sloan said.
Despite the criticism, it’s clear Harkin gives considerable weight to Eisman’s input. In an op-ed to The Los Angeles Times this week, along with scathing statistics about for-profit schools’ shoddy results, Harkin writes:
Wall Street money manager Steven Eisman told the committee that many for-profit colleges are “marketing machines masquerading as universities.” Their rapid growth is driven by easy access to federal student loans, guaranteed by the government. “The government, the students and the taxpayer bear all the risk,” Eisman testified, “and the for-profit industry reaps all the rewards.”
Harkin doesn’t mention in the article that Eisman has a financial interest in lobbying to regulate for-profit colleges and universities.