The Ugliness of For-Profits

Monday, July 20, 2009
Cross-posted from Brainstorm

I admit it. I have a chip on my shoulder when it comes to for-profit providers of higher education. Until now, I wasn’t entirely sure why. After all, I generally like competition and think that more options for students is a good thing.

But I grew nauseous reading this Reuters article, which summarizes President Obama’s American Graduation Initiative and concludes (with a nearly audible sigh of relief) that it doesn’t present a threat to the for-profit sector. Specifically, while “analysts said the program for community colleges could make them more competitive against firms such as Apollo Group Inc, Corinthian Colleges, ITT Educational Services Inc and Lincoln Educational Services Corp….the amount of money earmarked for the program would result in only a marginal increment in budgets for community colleges and have a small impact on these companies in the short term.”

Oh, well thank goodness. Because we wouldn’t want our efforts to increase degree completion rates in this country to hurt your bottom line—god forbid. Lest we forget for one moment that America is in the business of education, an analyst from Wedbush Morgan Securities states “"We would be more cautious on the market-funded sector had President Obama added another zero to the proposed $12 billion targeted for community colleges."

My goodness, yes—good thing the feds didn’t give too much money to the colleges serving the widest swath of Americans. Then you for-profits might really have to compete on a level playing field.