Posted: 03/19/11 17:43
by Dave Mindeman
My US Congressional Representative (in name only) John Kline has taken it upon himself to become a champion of for-profit schools. As chair of the Education and Labor Committee, this is a significant thing to note. And his campaign contributions from these for-profit institutions reflect that.
The Red Wing Eagle published a commentary recently, written by two people who have taught at these institutions. Their warnings are worth a second look......
By David Husom and Ann-Marie Rose
High school seniors are making decisions about their future after graduation. If they wish to continue their education they will have three choices: public, private or for-profit schools.
Public colleges run the gamut from two-year community and technical colleges to universities offering PhD degrees. Some of the cost of these schools is covered by state funding, (and in some cases local and federal funding). Additional support comes from corporations, alumni and philanthropists.
Students pay only a portion of the real cost of their education through their tuition.
At private colleges there is little or no taxpayer support, but greater private donations help offset the costs. In addition there are generally scholarship programs to help students.
For-profit schools are those that are actually run to make money. The student pays not only the full cost of their education, but a healthy profit margin as well.
You cannot miss their ads on afternoon television. Having taught at two of these schools we could tell horror stories of staff dealing drugs to students, illegal recruiting practices and even schools collecting tuition from students who were not there.
These schools are generally bad news for students, but they are even worse for the taxpayer. While the University of Minnesota returns over $13 to the Minnesota economy for every dollar it receives in tax support, these schools suck up great sums of federal money that often leaves the state as corporate profits.
Of course for-profit schools do not receive direct tax dollars like public schools, nor indirect support from the tax deductions that private school donors receive; they receive money from federally backed student loans. These loans are often not repaid by the graduates because they cannot find work in their field.
In fact the default rate for for-profit school loans is over 25 percent. For online for-profit schools it is near 50 percent.
In our experience many of the students leave these schools lacking the basic skills to get low-paid entry-level work. It is not surprising that almost a quarter of a million for-profit school students are now in default on their loans.
The good news is that the federal government wants to clamp down on these schools by requiring that they show proof of the potential for employment upon graduation through lower default rates. The bad news is the schools have dumped millions of dollars in campaign contributions to keep taxpayers paying for the inferior education the students receive.
An amendment sponsored by Minnesota Rep. John Kline recently passed the House that will block the Education Department’s “gainful employment” directive that would have required accountability. Kline has guaranteed direct support for these schools at the same time public education from K-12 and college is taking it in the teeth.
Let’s hope the Senate uses more common sense.
Remember Kline’s support for for-profit schools over public education the next time you read about your local school having layoffs, larger classes and reduced programming due to funding cuts. That money is now going to support for-profit companies.
The writers have more than 60 years combined experience in post-secondary education, from a two-year technical college to graduate-level university programs. Each has taught at all three of these types of schools.