May 12, 2015
repweber

Jeb Bush Campaign Adviser Serves on Board of Predatory College ITT

Former Congressman Vin Weber (R-MN) is an advisor to the unofficial presidential campaign of Jeb Bush, as both Weber and the Bush camp have confirmed. Weber recently told Fox News, “I think that Governor Bush is right on track in terms of how he’s been thinking about this potential race and when he needs to get into it and what needs to happen.”

But Weber is much more than a Bush campaign advisor. He’s a lobbyist who has pressed his former colleagues in Congress on behalf of clients like AT&T, the pharmaceutical trade association PHRMA, student loan giant Sallie Mae, and …

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May 9, 2015
trace1

The Era of Predatory For-Profit Colleges Might Be Over

Even if predatory for-profit college companies can hang on for a period, restoring revenues while retaining their abusive practices, the era where they blatantly and arrogantly rip off and students and taxpayers, while Washington politicians and lobbyists do their bidding without apparent shame, is likely near its end. But to make that happen, the Obama Administration must act, and act with urgency.

For decades, bad actors in this industry have engaged in awful abuses, and for five years we’ve seen steady revelations of such misdeeds, including blatant deceptions by for-profit colleges to students and government overseers. But only in the past …

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April 21, 2015
blunt

Senator Blunt Blames College Students for Borrowing

Parroting a familiar talking point by bad actors in the for-profit college industry, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), appeared last week to blame students for their high student loan burdens. After questioning Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Thursday about regulations aimed at for-profit colleges, Blunt, a member of the Senate GOP leadership, said [VIDEO at 1:38:00]:

We ought to be talking about … the debt problem when you get out of school. How much of that related to the actual cost of going to school and how much it related to what you thought your …

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April 5, 2015
Benjaminflo

Student Debt Strike? Read This Texas Mom’s Powerful Words

The 100-plus former students of for-profit Corinthian Colleges who have boldly asserted that they won’t pay back their student loans have garnered widespread attention and provided a powerful jolt to the debates about predatory colleges and our nation’s mounting student debt. A measure of the students’ impact is the meeting they were able to obtain last week to make their case to top officials of the U.S. Department of Education.

I hope these officials will listen — and act boldly themselves. The clock is running out on the Obama Administration’s efforts to curb the abuses of for-profit colleges, and while …

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March 23, 2015
west-TX-explosion

Leaders Tell Obama: Time Running Out On Preventing Chemical Disasters

Late last week, hundreds of organizations and people sent a letter to President Obama warning that his administration is running of time to act on an issue long-identified by the President as essential to our national security and public safety: protecting our people from the dangers of accidents or deliberate attacks at U.S. chemical plants.

I signed this letter, along with leaders including retired Army General Russel Honore, the commander of Task Force Katrina, and 9-11 widow Kristen Breitweiser, and organizations including the Environmental Justice Health Alliance, United Steelworkers, Sierra Club, and Greenpeace.

I have been involved in the effort to get …

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March 12, 2015
For-profits-large2

What Law Students — and Everyone — Should Know About For-Profit Colleges

This article originally appeared in the Harvard Law Record, a student-run publication. It also appears on Huffington Post

I’m a Washington DC lawyer and policy advocate, and I spend a couple days a week trying to expose and end the abuses of a particularly bad industry: predatory for-profit colleges. I am regularly contacted by industry employees who no longer can live with being part of an immoral enterprise:

• The marketer at a Utah “lead generation” company who is assigned to placing fake ads for non-existent jobs on the Internet, aimed at luring unemployed people to provide their …

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December 17, 2014
everest-college-you-can-do-it-large-1

Declaring Corinthian Colleges Too Big To Fail: A Terrible Idea

The U.S. Department of Education has blessed a deal under which a non-profit student debt collection company, Minnesota-based Education Credit Management Corporation (ECMC), will pay $24 million to acquire 56 campuses, operating under the brands Everest and WyoTech, owned by collapsing Corinthian Colleges, one of the most abusive and deceptive for-profit college companies. The terms of this deal are extraordinarily unfavorable to students.  The agreement creates a remarkable conflict of interest for the Department itself, and it sets terrible precedents for future failing colleges.

The deal is so bad that it seems that the Department is determined to prop …

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December 10, 2014
Geismar LA

30 years after Bhopal, Long Past Time To Make Chemical Plants Safer

Thirty years ago this month, a gas leak at a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, created a toxic cloud that eventually killed perhaps 20,000 people and injured 500,000 more. No chemical accident since then has approached the scale of the Bhopal disaster, but chemical plant tragedies continue every year, including in the United States — most recently a poison gas leak that killed four workers last month at a La Porte, Texas, plant owned by DuPont.

An explosion last year at a West, Texas, fertilizer plant, which killed 15 people and injured 160 more, prompted the Obama Administration to undertake a multi-agency review of …

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