As if anyone needed further proof that Arne Duncan could not care less about students, consider his logic on the settlement reached with Education Management, the for-profit college corporation. What follows is taken from a Huffington Post article by Shahien Nasiripour:
“A trio of Senate Democrats on Monday sharply rebuked outgoing Education Secretary Arne Duncan for comments in which he downplayed alleged wrongdoing committed by Education Management Corp., the for-profit college chain state and federal prosecutors accused of systematically defrauding taxpayers out of at least $11 billion.
“Duncan said Nov. 16 that government authorities hadn’t determined that the company, also known as EDMC, had misled students during an alleged years-long crime spree in which EDMC is said to have lied to the federal government about its eligibility to receive federal student aid when it falsely claimed it was in compliance with a federal ban on paying bonuses to recruiters based on student enrollment.
“’To be clear, what was found here was not misrepresentation to students. It was breaking the law and lying to us,’ Duncan said after the Department of Justice announced a $95.5 million settlement with the company that resolved pending state and federal lawsuits. EDMC denied wrongdoing.
“But lawmakers led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) excoriated Duncan for his ‘logically absurd’ statement in a letter Monday, arguing that the federal government effectively turned its back on former EDMC students saddled with debt as a result of EDMC’s alleged fraud.
“’EDMC cannot be guilty of lying to federal officials about recruiting students unlawfully unless EDMC actually recruited students unlawfully,’ Warren and Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in their letter. ‘EDMC did not lie to the government in a vacuum–it lied in the context of covering up a “recruitment mill” that was specifically designed to enroll students using any means necessary and saddling them with debt.’
“The distinction is important because had federal authorities formally accused the company of deceiving students, Duncan effectively would be forced to cancel their Education Department-backed debt under a provision in federal law that aims to shield borrowers from having to make payments on fraudulently originated federal student loans.
“Instead, former EDMC students have to navigate a complex process in which the Education Department wants them to effectively prove that they were duped into taking out loans to attend EDMC’s schools, such as The Art Institutes, Argosy University, Brown Mackie College and South University.
“Duncan repeatedly said in his November comments that his department was ‘open for business’ if others wanted to provide evidence that EDMC defrauded student borrowers. . . .”
Yes, Duncan’s DoE may be open for “business,” but, once again, it is very clearly not serving the interests of students abused by the practices of those who wish to turn education into a corporate enterprise.
The reports on Duncan’s departure as Secretary of Education have indicated that he seems to be positioning himself to run for mayor of Chicago. Perhaps Rahm Emanuel’s record as mayor will have heightened Chicagoans’ skepticism about the “accomplishments” of another member of the Obama administration who cannot ultimately distinguish the public interest from self-interest. (In fact, if I had to identify members of the Obama administration whom Progressives should regard with the greatest skepticism, Emanuel and Duncan would be very high on the list, if not at the top of it.)
Shahien Nasiripour’s complete article can be found at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/senate-democrats-slam-obama-duncan-education_565db5e1e4b08e945fec8077?utm.