The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Innovation Game

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, once again weighing in on higher education, recently released a study indicating that for-profit colleges are good for taxpayers.

According to a piece by Nancy Lewis at Youth Today:

[The] report… examines several new ventures aimed at expanding and personalizing distance learning, but most of the narrative criticizes the efforts by Congress and the Obama administration to ensure that for-profit colleges are providing the kind of education their students are paying for.

Entitled “Transforming Higher Education through Greater Innovation and Smarter Regulation,” the report was written by consultant T. Vance McMahon, a George W. Bush adviser since his Texas governor days, and Mario Loyola, a former analyst for the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee. Its prime thesis is that public and nonprofit traditional higher education forms are dying methods of teaching – predicting a dramatic drop in their enrollments over the next decade – and that distance or online education will quickly replace them.

Interesting thesis. Margaret Spellings, George W. Bush’s secretary of education, who now serves as the president of the U.S. Chamber’s Forum for Policy Innovation, spoke at the event to publicize the report.

As she explained, “the United States is losing ground internationally in degree, credential, and skill attainment; tuition is increasing faster than the cost of living; and traditional institutions are experiencing a productivity crisis.”

Good point. Innovation is necessary. What form of innovation would be most effective, however? As Spellings put it, “innovations from all sectors—including the private sector [for- profit colleges]—are needed for the transformative change required to meet our nation’s higher education goals.” Well “the private sector” is one option. All that international innovation, however, is simply not coming from online, for-profit schools.

Read the report here.

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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