Posts Tagged ‘Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’
December 11th, 2010 at 11:33 am
CFIF Asks Rep. Issa to Investigate Obama Administration Campaign Against For-Profit Colleges
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This week, CFIF formally petitioned House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman-Elect Darrell Issa (R – California) to investigate the Obama Education Department’s continuing campaign against for-profit colleges.

Career colleges have flourished because of their ability to nimbly respond to our evolving economy, offer an education focusing on hands-on occupational training, and excel at serving non-traditional students who often have children, are working, are typically older and are more diverse than their peers at traditional schools.  This is particularly important during the current period of job scarcity and worldwide economic competition.  The Obama Education Department, however, seeks to foist a proposed “Gainful Employment” rule that would declare academic programs ineligible for federal aid if some specified proportion of their graduates failed to meet an arbitrary income-to-loan payment ratio.

The natural consequence of such a rule:  vital for-profit career colleges would be eliminated.

The need for Congressional investigation became even more obvious this week.  The Government Accountability Office (GAO) withdrew, then revised and republished a defective study originally released last summer in which it sent undercover “students” to several schools to capture information on recruiting policies, promises of post-graduation pay, federal and other funds for tuition and expenses, and more.  That GAO report had been cited as vital evidence for the Education Department and a Senate committee as they prepare to promulgate the Gainful Employment rule, and even the Washington Post (whose parent company owns one of the largest for-profit schools) ran an article exposing that defective report.  The GAO’s numerous revisions are all clearly slanted in one direction – the original report inaccurately cast career colleges in an unfavorable light, while the revisions indicate that the GAO’s undercover students may have intended to entrap career college admissions personnel.  By the GAO’s own estimate, only 1 percent of reports are corrected, so an inquiry into the reasons behind this particular revision – with its original report clearly biased – is justified.

That news comes on the heels of allegations that Education Department officials communicated with short-sellers to inform them of their intentions, providing certain traders with inside information potentially allowing for illegal financial advantage.  The cooperation, however, was allegedly a two-way street.  According to media accounts, these same short-sellers may have concocted elaborate schemes to cast a negative light on career colleges, helping them rationalize the proposed rule.   These allegations are sufficiently serious that Senators Tom Coburn (R – Oklahoma) and Richard Burr (R – North Carolina) have formally sought an investigation.

At a minimum, an alarming pattern has emerged that points to the Department of Education specifically working to inflict economic harm upon career colleges, while possibly collaborating in the shadows with the very short-sellers on Wall Street who would most likely benefit from such activity.