Government isn’t good at innovation.
The Federal Aviation Administration grounds the fledgling drone industry. State governments try to crush Uber and back powerful taxi interests instead. Even Internet gaming ran into a parade of scolds who helped attack it.
For-profit college is having the exact same problem. And the mainstream media are making it worse.
Education for profit is new and innovative, so naturally it’s controversial. But, honestly, who cares about ivy-covered walls when you are trying to get a degree in some cutting-edge technology?
Traditional colleges care. They are used to having a monopoly on education. And those union-staffed, bastions of liberalism have their hooks into government more under the Obama administration than any time in recent memory.
Only to maintain their power, they have to shut down competition. They are trying to accomplish that by saying that for-profit colleges don’t provide students with “gainful employment.” That mindset has pushed the administration into creating rules that harm for-profit institutions even when traditional colleges might fail the same measures.
The first time the government tried this gambit, a judge overturned the result in 2012. Now Team Obama is back for more, with new regulations supposed to hit soon, perhaps as soon as October. This comes on the heels of the administration stopping federal student loan checks to Corinthian College, which helped cause it to shut down earlier this year.
Even The Washington Post editorial board has criticized the government’s handling of the situation. The paper noted the president’s hypocrisy for urging Americans to pursue education and making it harder on millions at the same time.
The paper suggested the Department of Education try fairer measures than it had discussed in the past.
“Why not come up with standards that make sense and apply them to all schools that accept federal student loan aid?” the paper asked Aug. 24, 2014.
That even-handed treatment was nowhere to be found among some of the major newspapers covering the issue. USA Today, The New York Times and Los Angeles Times portrayed for-profit education negatively by a factor of 15-1 in roughly three years of news coverage.
News outlets clearly have been taking the side of traditional higher education – stuffed to the rafters with liberal professors journalists love so dear. They have been laying the groundwork for more regulations, treating for-profit education as a problem in need of government solutions. Perhaps they never heard of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
According to a new report from the Media Research Center, the industry has been criticized for “exploitive and fraudulent practices,” that “prey on veterans with misleading ads.” Journalists at the three papers were consistently on the side of traditional schools. They bashed for-profit colleges for their cost, their lobbying and “woefully inadequate education.”
What was especially strange was that journalists seemed to care little about the very people for-profit education is designed to help – students. More importantly, students that traditional colleges tend to underserve because they lacked the money, connections or opportunities for a standard four-year degree.
Ordinarily, journalists are the ones screaming when poor and working class people get a raw deal. Instead, they are trying desperately to make it happen. The result could be “as many as 7.5 million students losing aid,” according to a new 100-page economic assessment by the industry.
The education site Inside Higher Ed reported that “up to 44 percent of students at for-profit colleges could lose access to federal financial aid under proposed ‘gainful employment’ regulations.”
Imagine the media reaction if even 4 percent of students at traditional colleges might face that fate.
But if you attend for-profit schools, you don’t matter much to the administration or the journalists who are supposed to be keeping them in check.
Fortunately, those who want to wreck for-profit education haven’t won yet. But for-profit colleges are fighting for survival against Big Government. And the futures of millions of students are at risk.
Dan Gainor is the Vice President for Business and Culture for the Media Research Center. He has written for TheBlaze Magazine and writes on media for TheBlaze.com.
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