In a classic case of “even a broken, ethically-bankrupt clock that’s funded by predatory for-profit universities is right twice a day,” education secretary Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration seem to be protecting Obama-era regulations on for-profit colleges.
The 2015 laws would require for-profit vocational schools to prove that they’re good investments before getting federal student aid. Monthly loan payments are measured against recent graduates’ starting salaries, and if the payments are too high, the schools lose out. This is a really good idea, at least in theory: for-profit schools argue that a profit motive will make them more efficient, but if that isn’t true, they have no business getting federal funding. And as parents gamble on charter school quality across the country, we see it’s difficult to judge how good a school really is without enrolling in it.
So for DeVos and the Trump administration to keep these rules in place is a pleasant surprise. And with DeVos as a “school choice” zealot and Trump running his own predatory for-profit school, it is very surprising. DeVos’ team even includes lobbyists from the for-profit education lobby. There are so many reasons for the Trump team to be on the other side of this, in fact, that I’m looking for some evil plot that would explain their unusual decency. But short of using these regulations to deny funding to public schools Trump doesn’t like, I can’t think of anything.
But maybe it’s not that odd for DeVos and Trump to oppose for-profit schools. DeVos’ charter school policy in Michigan has invested heavily in for-profit schools with disastrous results, and Trump’s own for-profit school had him settling lawsuits. Just maybe, the two of them are cracking down on for-profit schools because they know how bad those can be.
(Image "Art at Priceless," by Sharona Gott)