I have no love of for-profit colleges and universities – they are as greedy at the public trough as any other higher ed sector – but it is becoming increasingly difficult to not get very angry about the treatment they’re receiving in Washington.
Just one day after it was revealed that the GAO had substantially revised a report used back in August to smear proprietary colleges, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) – the driving force, along with the U.S. Department of Education, behind the war on profits – released a new report alleging that for-profit schools are ripping off G.I. Bill-using veterans. At least, that’s what the media stories are suggesting. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to verify the actual content of the report because as of the time I’m writing this, Harkin hasn’t yet made it publicly available – at least not by clearly posting it on his website. Unfortunately, as with the GAO report and almost everything else that’s gone on with this, the strategy seems to be demonize first, let for-profit schools defend themselves later.
Fortunately, you have a chance to enjoy some rational, informed debate about the for-profit college situation. On November 30, Cato hosted a forum on for-profit higher education, with numerous sides of the debate represented. There was no convict-first approach, and the panelists checked demagoguery at the door. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Sen. Harkin and the other grand inquisitors of for-profit schools.