Gainful Employment = Full Employment For Advocates?

Still going…The Times takes a long look at the big fight over rules to better regulate for-profit colleges earlier this year. Well worth reading.  In addition to the obvious, a couple of things jump out:

First, this is one of those situations where multiple things can be true at the same time.  For instance, Department of Education spokesperson Justin Hamilton is right when he says that the initial regulatory proposal, “would have unnecessarily eliminated many, many good schools along with the bad.”  This was a complicated issue and not an easy one to craft tough but fair regulations. But, at the same time, the main thrust of the article is also correct: The final rule was significantly weakened even beyond those concerns.  And this is an industry in need of some regulating – at least where public money is concerned.

Second, this is significant – an eyewitness account!:

But Robert Shireman, a former Education Department official who helped shape that original plan, said the intense politics surrounding the issue played a part in “watering down” the final result.

“From early on, the industry was going to friends inside and out of the administration and saying, ‘They’re out to get us,’ and creating the impression that these regulations were unfair or irrational,” said Mr. Shireman, who left the department before the plan was finished.

“They decided to raise holy hell,” he said in an interview.

Third, despite all that, the outcome seemed pretty clear even from early on.  In the Whiteboard “insiders” survey we asked tracking questions about the regulations for more than a year and insiders pretty accurately predicted how it would all play out in terms of the final regulations.

Finally, this is a long game and the current regulations are now a foothold.  In other words, this will flare up again.

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