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May 07, 2014

Is the Administration Picking Winners and Losers in Higher Ed?


Vice President of Education Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Vice President of Education and Workforce, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Duncan by Jay Mallin.JPG

Photo: Jay Mallin/Bloomberg
Photo: Jay Mallin/Bloomberg

During a Senate Budget Committee meeting yesterday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan displayed what some might describe as chutzpah as he claimed the department's proposed gainful employment regulations were in fact designed to help the for-profit sector, not "single out" or punish them. 

This bold claim comes on the heels of the department releasing yet another set of arbitrary rules that many have argued, including The Washington Post, unfairly target and discriminate against the for-profit sector while letting the rest of higher education off the hook and unaccountable for making sure students get the best return on their investment.

How is it that Secretary Duncan claims that "we want to see them [for-profit colleges] grow, we want to see them thrive," yet the department advances a set of regulations that would cut off financial aid to a significant number of institutions that are performing as good if not better than their higher education counterparts, including community colleges?

The reality is that this new round of regulations comes at a time when employers are struggling to find qualified workers and low-income and working families are looking for real and meaningful opportunities to access a college education and improve their lives. 

As we continue to work to make college accessible and affordable for all students while holding colleges accountable for their performance, it is important that the rhetoric matches reality.  Regrettably, Secretary Duncan's recent remarks come up short.

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About the Author

Vice President of Education Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Vice President of Education and Workforce, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Cheryl A. Oldham is vice president of education policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and is also vice president of the education and workforce program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

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