The American Enterprise Institute has recently published a paper about for-profit colleges. The interesting document urges rationality in education discussions, though it’s not really clear that anyone was ever making irrational statements.

According to the paper by Michael Horn (of the Innosight Institute):

Much of the debate over whether for-profits or nonprofits are more or less virtuous is a red herring to what the real questions should be. For the government paying, the question should be, “Is this given company, regardless of corporate structure, delivering on what society is paying it to do, as specified in the law?”

This is an interesting rhetorical device. Is the debate here really about “whether for-profits or nonprofits are more or less virtuous”? I have yet to see anyone seriously assert anything along these lines.

In fact, it appears that the question most people are now asking of for-profit schools has to do with whether or not these schools are using federal money efficiently to educate American students and prepare them to obtain good jobs.

Those are really important questions to ask. That’s why for-profit colleges are controversial.

“For-profit companies are not inherently good or evil” says Horn in his paper. Well right, no one is worried about fundamental philosophical questions like that. Let’s just figure out what all of this federal money is paying for. That’s the important thing. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer