I am writing to respond to your Aug. 6 editorial "Failed Schools: Congress Must Fix the For-Profit College Industry," which praises a biased report by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, that vilifies private- sector colleges and universities.
Projections suggest our country will need an additional 20 million workers with postsecondary education in this decade. Private-sector colleges and universities are essential to meeting this demand by educating 3.8 million students with the skills and training needed to immediately enter the workforce. In academic year 2009-2010, the 153 private-sector colleges and universities in Pennsylvania educated 139,899 students and employed 11,254 staff. Their students represented 13 percent of the 1,042,169 students enrolled in Pennsylvania's 388 postsecondary institutions.
Rather than leading a bipartisan charge to improve all of higher education and meet the demands on the workforce, Sen. Harkin continues his attacks on our schools by releasing a report that focuses on ideology over reality to make a case for more laws and regulations.
We can all work together to address the challenges facing higher education. Let's start by recognizing that there are good and bad schools in all elements of higher education. We need to provide access, outcomes and opportunity for all students in an era of deficit reduction. To do that, we must put ideological divisions behind us.
The writer is president and CEO of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities.
They waste money
I knew that for-profit schools like the Art Institute and ITT Tech spend a lot on advertising and recruiting students, but until I read "For-Profit Schools Labeled 'Abject Failure' " (July 31), I did not know that they spent so dramatically much more on marketing than on education. According to the federal report quoted in the article, these schools on average spend only 17 percent of their budgets on education, with much more going to executive pay and "marketing and profit." This business model makes them piles of money without delivering on their promises of useful degrees and career advancement.
The most disgusting part is that much of this misspent money comes from the federal government and thus from taxpayers. Having these young people fall victim to empty promises from smiling recruiters is one thing, but having government money tied up in it is a disgraceful waste. Federal money should be used on educating students and retaining good instructors, not on marketing and executive bonuses.