In an editorial published earlier this week, The Oklahoman, that state’s largest newspaper, weighed in on gainful employment, summarizing their position on the regulation succinctly in the headline: “Low-Income Adults Not Served by Punishing For-Profit Colleges,” a deep concern that APC shares.

From that piece:

“…For-profit colleges certainly aren’t a cure-all, but they’ve proven a viable way for many low-income adults to obtain vocational training and new careers. Those who would eliminate for-profit colleges in the name of preventing ‘exploitation’ of poor adults are in reality eliminating educational advancement and job opportunities for those same people.”

The editorial rightfully notes that for-profit institutions enroll a dramatically higher percentage of non-traditional students than public colleges and non-profit institutions. Many within these student population groups experience a variety of socioeconomic challenges that can disrupt, delay, and otherwise interfere with their program completion. As such, their on-time program completion rates trail those of Ivy Leagues and other non-profit institutions. Consequently, institutions like proprietary colleges who enroll a large number of minority and economically disadvantaged students will be unfairly targeted and penalized by the GE regulation due to its flawed metrics and skewed approach to measuring a program’s value, which in large part measure student demographics, such as race and family income, rather than program quality, as shown by a study from The Parthenon Group that we have written about before (“Hoisting The Department Of Education On Its Statistical Petard” / July 11, 2014)

The Parthenon Group took an in-depth look at the correlation between programs with a strong representation of nontraditional students and how well they fared under the GE rule.  While the Department of Education maintains that there’s no real relationship between students’ demographic and economic characteristics and how the program they attend performed under GE, Parthenon’s research proves otherwise. We encourage you to go back and read that earlier piece, which takes a clear-eyed view of the Department’s approach.

As The Oklahoman wrote in its editorial, “Education provides a path out of poverty, particularly for those who pursue learning opportunities beyond high school.” We have no doubt, unfortunately, that GE will prove to be cascade of falling rocks that block that path for far too many low-income students.

Kudos to The Oklahoman for this timely and astute editorial.

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