For-profit corruption

If public higher education was better, students would not seek alternatives.

Daily Editorial Board

Interested parties on both sides of the nonprofit versus for-profit college debate should pay attention to news this week: Neither comes out unscathed.
The White House and the U.S. Senate are no friends of the for-profit college industry. President Barack Obama has made community colleges a centerpiece of his goal to have the worldâÄôs highest percentage of college graduates by 2020. The Senate has spent the last week holding hearings about a disturbing report detailing the results of a sting operation conducted by the General Accounting Office on for-profits. The investigation found numerous examples of fraudulent and reckless admissions tactics where students were pressured into enrolling before they even knew the cost of the program.
For-profit colleges turned around and hired a company to investigate community colleges. Their report found that some community colleges use the same âÄúunsavory recruitment practicesâÄù that for-profits use.
Apparently âÄúthey-do-it-tooâÄù is an acceptable rationale in the making of public policy. Nevermind that for-profit schools exist to earn a profit. ItâÄôs clear they will make it any way they can. These two reports should serve as a wake-up call that public education is failing, and reckless private companies are taking their place.
An educated population is a public good. Instead of spending its time investigating for-profit schools, the Senate should focus to improve technical, vocational and community colleges. If these schools have quality, reasonably priced programs, students will turn to them instead of the for-profit alternative.