It’s rare to come across an opinion piece from someone outside the higher education community that argues so well against the “unintended consequences” of the Department of Education’s Gainful Employment Rule, and cautions so articulately against its misguided metrics. We were pleasantly surprised to read such a piece this week in Capitol Hill’s politically charged news source, The Hill.

The article, “The Problem With The Administration’s ‘Good Intentions’ in Education”, is written by Harry C. Alford, the president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, an outspoken critic of the GE rule who has consistently called attention to its inherent flaws. Indeed, Mr. Alford echoes many of the sentiments that we at APC continue to express in our opposition to the GE rule – in this instance leveraging the recent, much-touted Parthenon Group study, among others, to explain how the rule would unfairly penalize institutions that provide opportunities to students who might not have otherwise had the chance to receive an education. Mr. Alford says it best when he writes:

“Ultimately, the rules would single out programs that primarily serve minority students and important professions that have lower starting salaries, and would lead to the collapse of entire institutions with no clear plan for the students affected.”

As we have said time and again, with the Parthenon Group study as proof, despite the Department’s insistence that the rule doesn’t penalize institutions who primarily serve minority and economically disadvantaged students, the data – including some of their very own – suggests otherwise (you can read more specifics here).

So, kudos to Mr. Alford for shedding light not only on what has become a fiercely debated topic among higher education constituencies, but on the “potentially devastating consequences” – whether intentional or not – of implementing a rule that falls well short of its published goals. It’s unfortunate and disconcerting that more people – particularly those in a decision-making capacity at the DOE – have yet to share this view.

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