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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

CATO: Not Quite Oh, to Be Politically Favored!

Check out the knock on America's Historically Black Colleges (HBCUs) article via Instapundit:
At roughly the same time Duncan was dumping on for-profit schools, his boss was feting another subset of higher education:

At roughly the same time Duncan was dumping on for-profit schools, his boss was feting another subset of higher education: historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Indeed, he was kicking off National HBCU Week, and lauding the schools’ work. But guess what? While the Education Department doesn’t release default rates for HBCUs as a group, quickly pulling those schools’ data together and averaging their default rates indicates a rate even higher than for-profit schools: almost 12 percent. Moreover, for four-year, private, non-profit HBCUs — which like for-profit colleges don’t get big state subsidies to help keep tuition artificially low – the default rate is nearly 13 percent.

So why no criticism by Duncan of HBCUs? Heck, why was his boss celebrating them?

Because they are politically favored, that’s why. Of course, this is in part because of their very important historical mission to furnish higher education to long-oppressed African Americans. It is also, though, because like all “non-profit” colleges and universities, HBCUs act as if their employees have no interest in higher salaries, nicer facilities, easier workloads — all the rewards that the people in not-for-profit schools give themselves instead of paying profits out to shareholders. But there’s no evidence that people in HBCUs or other non-profit schools are any less self-interested than people working or investing in for-profit institutions.

Why do I point this out? Not to pick on HBCUs, but to further illustrate the point that the attack on for-profit schools isn’t really about saving taxpayer dollars or protecting students, but going after the easiest target to demagogue – people honest about trying to benefit themselves as much as “the students.” It is also to illustrate, once again, that when we let government fund something, it is political calculus – not educational benefits, economic effectiveness, or what’s best for taxpayers – that ultimately drives the policies. Which is why government needs to get out of the higher ed business that it has made both bloated and, ultimately, a net drain on the economy.
When I was looking for a college years ago, I just rejected the idea of going to a "for-profit" college. In fact I still look down on that option today, although my view on that may be somewhat different today than it is then. Back then in high school I considered DeVry or ITT or other similar schools a joke.

These days there are more options. At that my view on them is that they provide an alternative to these traditional "non-profit" colleges. These other non-traditional schools offer something that you may not find at a traditional school.

My observation is that when you watch TV typically during the day time and you look at advertisements for ITT or Everest College they mostly offer vocational training. What they offer may not be much different than any materials from traditional colleges. The only difference may well be that you don't have to take those classes that don't pertain to your vocation of interest.

While I doubt I would make a choice towards those "for-profit" schools I do know that there is nothing wrong with options in higher education. Ultimately aspiring college students have nothing but choices to pursue and it will effect the rest of their lives. Hopefully they won't go into a lot of debt to get to where they need to be. Traditional or non-traditional!

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