Postponing Gainful Employment

On Friday, the Department of Education released a notice that it will postpone its decision on the gainful employment rule. Not surprisingly, this notice has produced much comment. Adding to the level of comment was the Department’s statement that the gainful employment rule would still go into effect in July 2012, as planned.

A recent piece by Lanny Davis in Huffington Post takes an interesting perspective on the debate. He states:

Suppose that a conservative Republican Administration, in the middle of high unemployment and an economic slowdown, proposed new regulations that would most hurt lower income people and minority groups and the for-profit colleges and universities that serve them? Can you imagine the cries of outrage from liberal critics, condemning “hard-hearted” Republicans targeting the most vulnerable young people in our society?

Yet that is exactly what the Department of Education’s proposed “gainful employment” regulations would likely do. They are almost exclusively aimed at “for profit” private colleges, which are predominantly comprised of lower income and minority students. Let’s be careful about characterizing, as some liberals have done, those schools catering to such vulnerable at-risk students with “open admission” policies as “bad actors” whereas the more selective elitist Harvards and Stanfords with less student loan defaults are deemed “good actors.”

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