For-profits Fighting Back, Harkin to Flog-on

Last week, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Comittee, announced that on February 17 he will continue his obssessive attack on for-profit colleges, holding yet another hearing to determine just how evil profit-seekers are.  At least, that is what will presumably be discussed — the specific subject of the hearing is yet to be identified. But the committee actually tackling, say, rampant waste throughout higher education driven by federal student aid, or just giving for-profit schools an even-handed treatment, would be too huge a turnaround to contemplate.

Despite there being no end in sight to Harkin’s seige, for-profit institutions aren’t just rolling over, and today they launched their latest counterattack. This afternoon the Coalition for Educational Success — a for-profit college advocacy group — filed a lawsuit against the Government Accountability Office. At issue: The GAO’s ”secret shopper” report on for-profit institutions that was eventually — but very stealthily — revealed by the GAO to be riddled with errors, and which could be shown to be an even bigger smear job were the GAO to allow for-profit schools to examine the evidence behind the report. 

Clearly there will be more to come on this, if for no other reason than Harkin’s show-hearings have garnered a lot of coverage in the past. Hopefully, this time potentially disturbing behavior by the GAO, as well as the huge problems federal policy has created throughout higher education — you know, the really important stories — will also get a little attention.