Obama Plans to Link Colleges to Employers; For-Profit Schools Excluded
Byline: Kara Rowland, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
President Obama on Tuesday announced a new public-private partnership to link community colleges with potential employers, but career-college advocates say by focusing on public institutions he's ignoring private for-profits that have a better track record on job placement.
Those advocates said the fact that Mr. Obama signed to spend $2 billion in taxpayer money to boost public community colleges and at the same time impose new rules on for-profit private schools shows a hostility that's counterproductive if the goal is to boost jobs and tailor education to students' needs - especially for minority students.
It seems like a witch hunt just against the career colleges, said Jean Norris, managing partner of Norton Norris, a higher-education marketing firm that deals with both community colleges and for-profits. Taking career colleges out of the mix is something that would be detrimental to certain student groups, to achieving the agenda that the president has set out to achieve, and when you look at the success of career colleges in serving these populations - first generation, minority - and serving their community.
Mr. Obama, speaking at a White House summit hosted by Jill Biden, a community college professor and wife of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., touted the role of community colleges in meeting his goal of making America the top source of college graduates in the next decade by providing an affordable education. He unveiled a new program called Skills for America's Future, which seeks to create a national network connecting community colleges with employers such as McDonald's, Accenture and Gap Inc.
These colleges are the unsung heroes of America's education system, Mr. Obama said Tuesday. They may not get the credit they deserve. They may not get the same resources as other schools. But they provide a gateway to millions of Americans to good jobs and a better life. These are places where young people can continue their education without taking on a lot of debt.
The career-college industry, which often includes schools with a heavy online presence such as the University of Phoenix and Strayer University, has come under harsh fire from the Obama administration and some Democratic lawmakers who say graduates emerge saddled with debt. At a Senate hearing on Thursday, Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the chamber's education panel, issued a critical report that accused for-profits of viewing students as no more than cogs in the profit-making machine, with little concern for their education or success. …