For-profit colleges are major drivers of student loan debt, and in many cases are outright scams, aggressively and deceptively recruiting students who are likely to drop out after accumulating lots of debt, and who will face poor employment prospects even if they graduate. Continuing to siphon up so many student loan dollars requires political clout to ensure that the government doesn’t regulate the for-profit college industry; that’s why Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) gets so much campaign cash from the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, for instance.
The APSCU is holding an upcoming convention, at which the featured speaker will be George W. Bush, who Republic Report notes is:
[...] an appropriate speaker, in a sense, because his Administration’s deliberate actions made it easier for bad actors among for-profit schools to engage in a decade of waste, fraud, and abuse that has earned them billions in profits but has left many former students deep in debt and without job prospects.
Bush has done his damage and is mostly resting on his laurels these days. The same can’t be said of the APSCU’s “additional speaker,” though. It’s Michelle Rhee, who is apparently not content with jetting about the country working with Republican governors and legislators to eviscerate public K-12 education but wants to expand her reach to the college level. Republic Report’s David Halperin argues that the lesson to take from her participation is that:
If you’ve been on the fence about Rhee, not sure if she’s a sincere reformer with real results or a union-busting elitist aimed at replacing public education with charters, private schools, and online learning companies, you may find cause to jump off the fence now. By speaking at the annual meeting of the most cynical group of “educators” ever assembled — Wall-Street owned businesses that enrich their CEOs and ruin students’ lives at taxpayer expense and then hire armies of lobbyists to protect their privileges — Rhee has made her preferences very clear.
For those of us who have long been off the fence, there has to be some grim satisfaction in Rhee cementing her move from being a plausibly bipartisan threat to public education to an easy-to-marginalize right-wing hack.