Taking on the For-Profits: A Tale of Successful Journalism

You may have seen the recent news about the large for-profit educational chain Corinthian Colleges going belly-up as part of a consent agreement with the U.S. Department of Education, which had charged the company with failing to provide information on its graduates’ career progress (or lack thereof) as required for eligibility for federal student loan funds. And you may be generally aware the Obama administration has been in something of a Cold War with for-profits generally.

But as Daniel Luzer explains today at College Guide, serious scrutiny of non-profit colleges really began right here at WaMo, with a 2009 article by Stephen Burd on for-profit gounging of students and the federal government that got the attention of Sen. Tom Harkin.

Harkin was intrigued and the senator called up Harris Miller, the Virginia political operative and lobbyist then serving as the president of the Career Colleges Association, the trade association representing the country’s 1,400 for-profit vocational schools in the United States (now known as the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities). Harkin brought Miller into his office, put the article in front of him and said “I want you to refute this and if you can’t there will be hearings.”

Miller tried but he couldn’t, at least not to Harkin’s satisfaction, and so there were hearings. Oh God were there hearings.

The rest is history still unfolding. Check out Luzer’s post for more.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.