WASHINGTON, D.C. | February 17, 2011
In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal
, President Obama laid out his plan to conduct a comprehensive regulatory review to “remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive.”
I have pledged to be a partner in that effort. Job creation and American competitiveness are our top priorities. That is why I am offering an amendment to deny funds from being used to implement and enforce a job-destroying Department of Education regulation.
More than three million students attend proprietary schools. These schools, also known as for-profit schools or career colleges, provide students will skills that can be applied immediately to specific jobs in the workforce. With more than six million workers unemployed for more than 26 weeks, proprietary schools address a critical need in today’s economy.
These schools also help address the needs of local communities. Proprietary institutions are nimble and easily adapt to the demands of an ever-changing local economy. If a community lacks trained nurses or qualified auto mechanics, proprietary schools can quickly develop programs to fill those needs.
For years proprietary schools have served young adults, single parents, first-generation college students, and low-income individuals. They have opened doors to bright futures and strengthened our economy. That is why the recent efforts by the Obama administration have been so troubling.
Last year, the Department of Education put forward regulations that will deny students access to many of these institutions. The regulation includes a number of provisions, including unprecedented reporting requirements placed solely on the backs of proprietary schools. The regulation also requires schools to seek preapproval from the Department of Education before creating any new program – tying down in bureaucratic red tape the flexibility that has benefited communities and workers.
The public outcry to the regulation has been resounding – more than 90,000 public comments were sent to the Department during the rule-making process. A strong bipartisan coalition of members of Congress has voiced their concerns to the administration, but those concerns seem to have been ignored.
In 2008, Congress had an opportunity to define “gainful employment,” yet it chose not to. It recognized such a definition would limit student choice and stifle employment. Instead the administration is barreling ahead with bad policy.
We all support transparency and accountability. We should empower students with good information about all institutions so they can make the most informed choice about their education. We should do our part to root out bad actors. We can do that while opposing an out-right attack on the private sector.
That is what this is: an attack on the private sector of education. Colleges that planned to expand their campuses have put those plans on hold. This effort will force schools to turn away students and close their doors. Some have already laid off workers.
Capella, based in my home state of Minnesota, announced just yesterday they will lay off 125 staff members. The regulation is destroying jobs today and will continue to do so.
Make no mistake: this isn’t just another regulation that will destroy jobs. It is an assault on students’ ability to find an institution that best meets their needs.
The president has laid out a goal to lead the world in college graduates in less than 10 years. This goal represents the reality that far too often our workers are unprepared to succeed in a highly competitive global economy. But we cannot lead the world if we follow the path this regulation would force us to take.
Let’s support our students. Let’s support their right to choose a college that meets their needs. Let’s support a strong and competitive workforce. I ask my colleagues to support this amendment.
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