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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Public And Private Colleges Cave In To John Kline

Category: John Kline
Posted: 05/10/15 00:46

by Dave Mindeman

This is kind of depressing, but it needs to be talked about.

Our system of making laws is deeply flawed in favor of lobbyists. And it makes the concept of doing the right thing....nearly impossible.

My case in point deals with the For Profit college lobbyists who are backing John Kline's foolishly named "Supporting Academic Freedom Through Regulatory Relief Act".

What this law does is protect the For Profit Colleges by barring the regulations on for-profits, among other regulatory rollbacks.

As we are well aware, John Kline is deep in the back pocket of For Profits and has been pushing against the administration in its attempt to clamp down on the predatory recruiting and loan defaults the For Profits are famous for.

Kline's efforts have been slowed down in Congress and a July 1 deadline that could put these rules in place is getting closer.

But now we get to the really disappointing part of all this.

For years, the higher education establishment has viewed the for-profit education business as both a rival and an unsavory relation -- the cousin with the rap sheet who seeks a cut of the family inheritance. Yet in a striking but little-noticed shift, nearly all of the college establishment's representatives in Washington are siding with for-profit colleges in opposing the government's crackdown.

In a ridiculous turn of events, the higher education lobby (yes, the public and private institutions have lobbyists, too) has taken their own anti-regulatory stance and sided with the For Profits on promoting this bill.

I was stunned as I read this. Public and private universities do not operate as For Profit businesses. In theory, their only interest is getting students a good education at an affordable price.

This bid for GOP favor may seem counter-intuitive, given that many conservatives view academia as a bastion of pampered liberalism. In reality, the higher education lobby represents an industry as self-interested as any other -- the two largest of its many trade groups reported spending $500,000 on federal lobbying last year -- and it spies an opportunity in the deregulatory instincts of the Republican majority.

Why? Why is this happening now. Well, here is an explanation:

Early on, the traditional higher education lobby generally backed the administration. When the revised regulations came out last fall, Terry Hartle, chief lobbyist for the American Council on Education, which represents 1,700 schools from Abilene Christian University to Yale, called them "an honest effort by the department to find an appropriate balance." He added, "These issues are complicated, and they're trying to get it right." Then the Republicans took control of the Senate and the signals changed.

The academic community senses that the Republicans have the upperhand on this issue....and what the heck, why should they promote more scrutiny and regulation on their own methods, when the For Profits are going to get away with it anyway.

As usual, it is all about self-interest and playing to the ones in power.

I would suspect that if Kline's bill would somehow pass both the House and Senate (it will have to overcome a Democratic filibuster in the Senate), it would still have to overcome a Presidential veto.

But I sense that the public and private academic institutions are trying to curry some favor with the Republican majorities in Congress, in hopes of getting brownie points with the House and Senate leadership.

And of course, they need to pander to John Kline as well. He still has the gavel and control of the Education and Work Force Committee.

I guess that's how lobbying works. You don't do what is right for the country in general - you only deal with your own self-interest.

Of course, getting John Kline's attention takes more than "agreeing" with him, you have to "grease the wheels"....if you know what I mean.
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Kline's For Profit Buddies Continue Their Scam

Category: John Kline
Posted: 04/28/15 00:12

by Dave Mindeman

We have heard this before...

A group of 20 U.S. senators, including Minnesota's Al Franken, sent a letter to Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan last week asking him to assist in closing a loophole that allows for-profit colleges to count GI Bill benefits as nonfederal funding in their revenue breakdowns. It's called the 90/10 rule. It's intended to cap federal funding for for-profit colleges at 90 percent of their revenue.

Hmmmm...where did we hear that? That sounds so familiar....

Legislation designed to prevent for-profit colleges from gaming the federal aid system and exploiting veterans died within 15 minutes of being introduced this month. U.S. Rep. John Kline of Minnesota, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, quashed the bill by ruling it non-germane to the topic of financial aid being discussed at his July 10 (2014) hearing....At issue was the so-called 90/10 rule, which bans for-profit schools from receiving government funding if they draw more than 90% of their revenue from federal student aid programs.

Non-germane....to the topic of financial aid. How is it possible that it is non-germane? Kline defends the For-Profits:

As Kline made his procedural ruling against tightening the 90/10 rule, he also spoke against the substance of the reform, saying it would limit veterans' education options improperly. "We should be expanding college access to our veterans, not denying them the opportunity to attend the institution of their choice," he said.

The For-Profit college route is an expansion of "opportunity"? Well I guess if you are looking to expand college debt.

Seven of the eight largest For-Profit colleges are under investigation. Corinthian Colleges are shutting down under pressure. Globe University has been under scrutiny from the Minnesota AG's office and has numerous lawsuits pending. Most of the student loan defaults come at the hands of these For-Profit colleges and their charlatan recruitment practices.

That's opportunity?

The only real opportunity that is evident is Kline's opportunity for more campaign cash from a bogus industry he protects.

We have heard this record before - and we are still waiting for something to be done about it.
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Cong. John Kline Is Just Bad At His Job

Category: John Kline
Posted: 04/20/15 10:15

by Dave Mindeman

Congressman John Kline is kind of a lonely man these days. During most of his 3 year odyssey to dismantle and restructure No Child Left Behind legislation, he has ignored Democrats and their contributions. As he moves into the 2015 session, he not only has lost Democrats, but now he seems to be losing his Republican colleagues as well.

During this ever winding road trip into education, Kline has managed to alienate the Club For Growth, the Chamber of Commerce, the Heritage Foundation and some conservative education bloggers.

What happens if a committee chair offers a bill and NOBODY says "yea"?

Kline has never been very good at the art of compromise. He has been so used to a lock step party philosophy, that he has never considered that ignoring Democrats and putting a "conservative" description on legislation won't automatically get it sailing through.

I guess people are now starting to read the bill.

Things have slowed down so much with Kline's bill that it looks like the tortoise speed Senate is going to have a vote on their version before the House. Kline seems to be doing the impossible! He can't move his bill in a GOP majority held House.

Kline's education bill has several provisions that have aroused controversy...

The latest bill halts the waiver system used by Education Secretary Arne Duncan to allow dozens of states, including Minnesota, to bypass No Child requirements. It gives local and state governments more power to deal with failing schools. It keeps required testing and assessments, but mandates that they be run by states. It includes a "portability" provision that allows some federal funding to move with low-income students should they choose a school out of their area or a charter school.

Conservatives want more waivers; liberals want more consistency. Kline manages to tick off all of them.

Kline says he needs to "educate" his GOP colleagues on his education bill. That sounds almost funny to say....Kline is not an educator himself. As the chairman of the Work Force and Education Committee, Kline is not used to a need to persuade his own GOP colleagues on what he is trying to do.

So, here we are again. No education bill is in sight. Kline can't even think about compromising with Democrats until he compromises with his own party.

Maybe we should just consider one other thing. John Kline is just bad at his job.
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