WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement on a federal rulemaking panel’s meeting to discuss the Department of Education’s draft proposals to rewrite federal rules governing college accreditors and institutions:
“Tomorrow’s hearing is a shameful Potemkin process set up by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, seemingly to do the bidding of the predatory for-profit colleges whose profiteering interests she appears to serve. The secretary is sworn to represent students, yet she neglects them consistently; instead, she goes to bat, time and time again, for corporate cronies who want to siphon off hundreds of billions of dollars of public money for profit.
“This sham—which is taking place in the midst of a government shutdown, no less—is ultimately designed to fail. By limiting the time the panel can meet at the outset, it all but ensures that the group—which does include several distinguished participants—will not be able to reach consensus on 16 expansive topics. The secretary can then use that lack of consensus as cover to ram through an industry wish list of unprecedented scope and scale that will leave students and taxpayers with no backstop against the institutions determined to exploit them.
“The proposed regulations up for debate put students at risk. They make it easier for schools to provide unsuspecting students with an ‘education’ that barely meets academic standards. They gut already-weak oversight, making it easier for new accreditors and providers to charge money for a degree—even when they’re not offering real educational services. And they allow accreditors to protect educational institutions that flout equality standards mandated by Title IV by using a ‘religious’ defense.
“Ultimately, the regulations up for debate make it easier for unscrupulous educational institutions to proliferate in the higher education market and charge unsuspecting students to attend them, all while the Department of Education does nothing to protect them.
“The promise of higher education in this country must be protected, not sold to the highest bidder in a fake rulemaking process designed to protect corporations instead of students. Shame on Betsy DeVos for staging another stunt that puts profits over students—again.”