Walker, DeVos roll back pro­tec­tions from preda­tory col­leges

Wisconsin Gazette - - Opinion -

Wisconsin con­sumers are more vul­ner­a­ble than ever to get­ting ripped off by preda­tory for­profit col­leges in the af­ter­math of re­cent ac­tions by Gov. Scott Walker and Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Betsy DeVos.

In 2015, Walker pro­posed elim­i­nat­ing the Ed­u­ca­tional Ap­proval Board, re­peal­ing sev­eral reg­u­la­tory pro­vi­sions and dis­pers­ing the agency's re­main­ing du­ties among other agen­cies.

His ini­tial ef­fort to elim­i­nate the EAB, cre­ated in 1944 to over­see in­sti­tu­tions like for-profit col­leges and pro­tect con­sumers, was un­suc­cess­ful.

Two years later, as part of his 2017 bud­get, Walker suc­ceeded in elim­i­nat­ing the EAB.

Func­tions of the for­merly in­de­pen­dent agency were trans­ferred to the state De­part­ment of Safety and Pro­fes­sional Ser­vices and ex­pe­ri­enced staff, in­clud­ing the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor po­si­tion, were ei­ther elim­i­nated or not re­tained. They were re­placed by staff lack­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with the in­dus­try.

Now we have DeVos gut­ting rules in­tended to help stu­dents sad­dled with debt by for-profit col­leges.

The ed­u­ca­tion sec­re­tary in July pro­posed re­peal­ing the “Bor­row­ers De­fense” rule in­tended to help stu­dents de­frauded by for-profit col­leges.

Un­der DeVos' pro­posal, bad col­leges would see their li­a­bil­ity for rip­ping off stu­dents re­duced and the num­ber of stu­dents el­i­gi­ble for loan re­lief would be slashed.

Watch­dog scrutiny of the for-profit col­lege in­dus­try has in­creased re­cently, and what has been un­cov­ered is un­sa­vory. The in­dus­try tar­gets veter­ans, mi­nori­ties and low-in­come stu­dents, en­cour­ag­ing them to take on mas­sive debts and of­ten leav­ing those who grad­u­ate with worth­less de­grees.

In Wisconsin, there have been sev­eral high pro­file clo­sures of for-profit col­lege chains, in­clud­ing ITT Tech and Globe Univer­sity. Such clo­sures have left hun­dreds of stu­dents in limbo, with­out a way to con­tinue their ed­u­ca­tion or get credit at other in­sti­tu­tions for classes they paid for and com­pleted.

One Wisconsin Now is a non­profit, non-par­ti­san pro­gres­sive ad­vo­cacy group

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