If you listen in on academic discussions– online, in electronic lists, and conferences– you quickly see the ways that proprietary education has become a kind of stand in for the ongoing problems in U.S.higher education. The destruction of tenure, rising tuition, student debt, less access for working class and poor to educational capital. These are all problems endemic to our system but too often it sounds as if proprietary education invented all of them.
The dangers of this shortsightedness is reflected in the ongoing response to new regulations designed to “rein in” proprietary education. As it turns out– no one should be surprised by this– it’s not just the for-profits that have been given a free regulatory ride (“As Costs of New Rule Are Felt, Colleges Rethink Online Course Offerings in Other States“). The public schools have flaunted regulations too and the shift to the new regulations is going to be expensive for everyone.
We don’t need rules to “rein in” proprietary education and we certainly don’t need a nightmare regulatory scenario– parallel to the history of the credit card industry–in which states “compete” to be the higher education friendly state” and so on. We need a federal system that addresses problems shared by public and for-profits alike: the availability of affordable, online education for working class people and the poor, the over reliance on loans, the loss of full-time positions and tenure.