January 30, 2014

Feds Launch Online Complaint Portal for Vets Abused By For-Profit Colleges

Federal agencies have this morning launched a new online complaint system where veterans, service members, and their families can report on problems with colleges and universities receiving federal education aid. As numerous investigations have revealed and President Obama has noted, for-profit colleges have engaged in widespread abuses of vets and military families. The new complaint system follows from the President’s April 2012 executive order requiring stronger protections for veterans against deceptive recruiting and other misconduct by educational institutions.  The Departments of Education and Justice, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission are all part of the …

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January 27, 2014

State Attorneys General Open Major Investigations of Big For-Profit Colleges

In tomorrow’s State of the Union address, President Obama will likely revisit his plans to hold America’s colleges and universities more accountable for helping U.S. students train for real careers.  But while a stalemated Congress still blocks progress in many areas, a bipartisan group of state attorneys general just took a major step to help college students, especially veterans, single parents, and others struggling to support their families.

The house of cards built by the worst-performing higher education sector — predatory for-profit colleges — may at last be in peril of collapsing.  In the past few days, four of the …

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January 14, 2014

President Obama’s Chemical Safety Panel Must Heed Senator Obama’s Warnings

In the wake of the April 2103 West, Texas, chemical plant explosion, which killed 15 people and injured 160 more, President Obama issued an executive order directing federal agencies to improve the safety of our industrial chemical plants.  Right now, a working group of federal officials is conducting “listening sessions” around the country to hear from the public on these issues. I spoke at one of these meetings in Washington DC today, before a panel chaired by David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA). Here’s what I said:

Members of the Working Group, …

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December 13, 2013

Obama Team Must Be Fair, but Tough, on For-Profit Colleges

This morning the U.S. Department of Education convenes what may finally be the last session of its negotiated rulemaking on a proposed “gainful employment” rule, a measure aimed at cutting off federal aid to career college programs that fail to train students to earn a decent living.  The latest draft regulation from the Department would be a step in the right direction as compared with the status quo, but as the New America Foundation’s Ben Miller shows, it’s somewhat weaker than the previous draft, in terms of holding predatory career colleges accountable for programs that leave students with …

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December 9, 2013
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For-profit college group, linked to ALEC, keeps working to harm students and taxpayers

It’s a busy time for APSCU, the trade association of America’s for-profit colleges.  The group spends its time trying to block reasonable measures to hold the worst actors in its industry responsible for their systematic abuses of students and taxpayers, as if the industry is permanently entitled to the enormous amounts of federal taxpayer money — $33 billion in a recent year — that it receives. And the industry is under siege, now that media and government investigations have exposed that many for-profit colleges offer a toxic mix of deceptive recruiting, high prices, low quality instruction, and poor …

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November 20, 2013

Bob Kerrey and Private Equity Owner Defend For-Profit Colleges Without Disclosing Financial Stake

The Wall Street Journal today published an op-ed by former Senator Bob Kerrey and private equity man Jeffrey Leeds attacking the U.S. Department of Education’s new “gainful employment” rule, which is aimed at reducing taxpayer aid to career colleges that consistently leave students with insurmountable debt. The piece is riddled with misleading arguments about for-profit colleges that I can’t type fast enough on this Amtrak train, but I would be glad to debate either or both authors anyplace anytime on the substance.

Now I just want to point out that the article fails to disclose at least one of …

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October 17, 2013
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Who Wrote the For-Profit College Group Handbook Urging Members Not To Lie to Students?

The lobbying group of for-profit colleges, APSCU, today released a report, “Best Practices in Recruitment and Admissions.” State and federal authorities, and private lawyers, have been investigating for-profit colleges, and winning settlements, arbitrations, and jury verdicts in cases where recruiters used coercive tactics and made false promises to prospective students about college costs, job placement rates, and other critical matters. So APSCU is trying to show in public that the sector is working to clean up its act, with a booklet advising recruiters to provide students with “clear and accurate information.”

But, as we’ve come to …

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October 16, 2013

Obama Can and Must Act Now On Chemical Plant Safety

What connects all of these terrible events – the 1984 pesticide plant disaster at Bhopal, India, which caused 20,000 deaths; the Sept. 11, 2001, Al Qaeda attacks on the U.S.; and the recent deadly chemical plant explosions in West, Texas, and Geismar, Louisiana?

What connects these events is the looming danger of a massive terrorist assault or accident at a U.S. chemical plant.

In 2003, the government’s National Infrastructure Protection Center warned that chemical plants in the United States could be Qaeda targets. Media investigations have highlighted lax or nonexistent security at these facilities, with gates unlocked and chemical tanks unguarded.

According …

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