On Monday, July 26, the text of the Gainful Employment rule was officially published in the Federal Register.
What does this mean? Individuals and other organizations will have 45 days from that date to respond to the proposed rule – sharing their views about Gainful Employment with the Department of Education. The Department will then take those comments into consideration before issuing the final rule in November 2010 and implementing that rule in July 2011.
Rumors abound that the Department of Education aims to loosen the restrictions on its proposed gainful employment rule. And recent shifts in stock prices reflect optimism that these whisperings will prove to be true. But what does this mean?
Department of Education spokesperson Justin Hamilton e-mailed the following statement:
“What our proposal will do is balance the need to protect students and taxpayers while strengthening the critical role for-profit schools will play in helping us meet the president’s 2020 goal: for America to once again lead the world in the number of college graduates.”
For months, I have been writing that the proposed gainful employment rule has the potential to leave low-income and minority students out in the cold. The Department’s recent statement indicates the intent to move ahead with a rule that restricts access to higher education by focusing apparent dislike for private sector institutions ahead of the desire to help students seeking higher education.
My admiration for Secretary Duncan leads me to hope that Mr. Hamilton’s emailed statement means that the amended rule will recognize the critical role of for-profit schools. The rule is scheduled to be released shortly by the Department of Education.
Mollie Benz Flounlacker, associate vice president for federal relations at the Association of American Universities says “There is concern that some of these regulations targeting the for-profit sector will have a spillover effect. This one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work in higher education, which has such a diverse set of institutions.”
Students and their learning needs vary enormously. One-size does not fit all, and traditional colleges and universities are well aware of the resulting challenge. Schools shouldn not be regulated in a one-size-fits-all approach.
In the same article from the Chronicle, it was also interesting to note C. Todd Jones’ comment. He is the president and general counsel of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio. He makes the point that “the department has created a new regulatory regime to fix a problem that they have not fully articulated with a solution whose impact they don’t fully understand.”
As with any federal rule-making, , there are going to be concerns on both sides of the issue. It is important for the Department to consider the various and unintended consequences of its regulations. At the end of the day, the U. S. needs to consider what is best for the student and what is best for raising U. S. economic competitiveness through education. And a one-size-fits-all approach probably is not a solution.