Last week, I submitted the following letter to the editor of the New York Times regarding their May 12 editorial, “Education Is the Last Thing on Their Minds“:
A recent editorial implies that Education Management Corporation (EDMC), which owns the Art Institutes, is guilty because the Justice Department has joined a lawsuit that had been filed against EDMC. Of course there is another side to this story of a complaint from admissions representatives. The Times also uses emotional language with its conclusion that suggests thousands of students have been “ripped off by unscrupulous schools.”
Along with the unwarranted implication of guilt in a society with our particular judicial and political system, the Times’ editorial board gives the appearance of its having joined the chorus of critics who react uncritically and with almost instinctive negativity to the for-profit sector of the education industry. Like traditional higher education, the for-profit industry has a responsibility to improve in the delivery of authenticated, quality education. But neither traditional schools nor for-profit schools are doing enough with transparent processes that assure learning through sophisticated assessment.
It is time to recognize that we cannot achieve President Obama’s goal for 2020 of having the U.S. be the country with the highest percentage of its students’ graduating from college without the increasing role of the for-profit industry. The editorial appears to be a convenient means for the staff’s support of those, including some lawmakers, who have attacked the industry. Instead, we should expect that the Times, with its considerable influence and reach, to bring attention to the potential for improvement in all of higher education – nonprofits, community colleges, and for-profits.