January 19, 2022

For-Profit College Reps at Education Meeting Are Part Of Trade Group That Has Harbored Predatory Abusers

For-Profit College Reps at Education Meeting Are Part Of Trade Group That Has Harbored Predatory Abusers

Bradley Adams, the chief operating officer of South College and the lead negotiator for the for-profit college industry in this week’s Department of Education rule-making meetings, has criticized proposed rules that would hold career college programs more accountable for deceiving students and burying them in debt. Predictably, Adams has repeated the industry’s mantra that all federal rules should treat all college programs equally, even though the specific rules at issue in these meetings are based on a federal statute that governs only for-profit and career programs, and even though mountains of evidence show that job placement, debt, and defaults are worse, and predatory abuses occur mostly, in programs where a profit-driven entity calls the shots. 

When you hear Adams opine about what measures would best protect students, and especially when he talks about matters like the collapses of notorious predatory for-profit college chains Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech, please note: According to an email that the for-profit college lobbying group CECU sent its members on January 5, celebrating Adams’ appointment to the rule-making panel, CECU nominated Adams for the slot, and South is a CECU member.

CECU no longer publishes its school member list on its website, but earlier versions of the site show that past CECU members included Corinthian and ITT Tech. And also CEHE, ECA, Vatterott, EDMC, Globe, ATI, FastTrain, and Alta/Westwood – all predatory chains that collapsed under the weight of law enforcement investigations, lawsuits, and / or other disclosures about abuses against students and taxpayers.

CEHE, a particularly deceptive and abusive chain, was still a CECU member in 2020 when a Colorado court adjudged it in violation of consumer protection laws, and in 2021, a year in which its accreditor revoked approval of the company’s schools, the Department of Education suspended the operation’s CEO as a contractor, and the schools shut down. CEHE is pursuing reversals of the adverse decisions, but the evidence presented against the company, in the Colorado trial and elsewhere, is devastating, and the harm to thousands of students is clear. 

CECU (previously called APSCU, and before that CCA) never expelled or criticized any of those operations before they crumbled. Other ex-members of the group include still-operating, predatory chains Perdoceo, DeVry, Zovio, and Kaplan.

The alternate for-profit college negotiator for the meeting is Michael Lanouette, regional director of operations for Centura College, Tidewater Tech, and Aviation Institute of Maintenance – Teterboro — all CECU members, according to the same CECU email. 

Jason Altmire, the former Democratic member of the House of Representatives who took over as CECU CEO about a year ago, seems far more open to honest inquiry and exchange than his predecessors. But the group remains dominated by wealthy for-profit college barons who seem to believe they are entitled to a permanent flow of taxpayer dollars, no matter how much their institutions rip off students and taxpayers. And CECU, which worked closely with Betsy DeVos’s education department to destroy key regulations during the Trump presidency, continues to ply misleading arguments in efforts to derail reasonable accountability rules.  

When these two for-profit college representatives speak at the ongoing Department meetings, when they tell you their sector’s schools are good, and when they demand protection from accountability rules — when you assess the credibility and sincerity of their arguments — keep in mind that their trade association (1) has for decades harbored the worst offenders in the industry; and (2) won’t tell you who its current members are.