The Obama administration’s view on how to expand access to higher education in the United States is pretty simple, provide more money but demand more accountability. Funds spent helping young people learn valuable skills are money well-spent, but funds spent on pointless churning are pure waste. Alec MacGillis has a great piece in the Post about how this plays out, including a revealing quote:
“Higher education is an interest group like any other, and what it wants is a lot of money from the taxpayer and no oversight of how that money is spent,” said Kevin Carey of the think tank Education Sector. “And they’ve been very successful getting it for a long time.”
Sarah Flanagan, a lobbyist for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), said the provisions crossed the line. They “put out national incentives and fund states and get states to get colleges to increase performance. That’s not how colleges operate,” she said.
And it’s true, that’s not how they operate and that’s the problem. I would add special kudos to the Post for running this piece because, as MacGillis notes at the end, one company that really, really, really, really doesn’t like the administration’s effort to not let poor-performing for-profit colleges soak up endless quantities of taxpayer cash is the Washington Post Company, whose Kaplan University group is among the worst-performing major players in the field.