April 18, 2014


States Crack Down on For-Profit Colleges, Student Loan Industry. . .Thirty-two states are now working together under the leadership of Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway to investigate potential abuses in the for-profit college industry, which saw enrollment more than triple between 1998 and 2008, according to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. One reason for the concern is the amount of taxpayer dollars involved: Some for-profit colleges receive 90 percent or more of their revenue from the federal and/or state governments in the form of student aid. “While some for-profit schools offer quality training and legitimate diplomas, we have found that this industry often markets subpar programs to veterans and low-income students who depend on federal aid,” Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said. “When students don’t receive the training they sign up for, or default on their loans, it not only greatly impacts their future but it also impacts taxpayers who have backed these loans in the first place.”  Stateline

IL: Environmental groups file suit to stop $1.3B Illiana toll road proposal. Three environmental groups filed a lawsuit today to block the proposed $1.3 billion Illiana toll road that would serve primarily as a trucking corridor linking interstates in Illinois and Indiana. The lawsuit challenges the Illinois Department of Transportation’s authority to build the toll road running through Will County, saying the Illiana’s approval violated state law.  The Illiana would be state’s first major public-private partnership, in which private investors would build and operate the highway.  Chicago Tribune

GA: Regents seeking bids to privatize student housing. The University System of Georgia is moving ahead with a student housing privatization initiative the General Assembly approved last month. . . . Georgia lawmakers passed a bill during the recently concluded legislative session aimed at encouraging privatization of student housing and other non-instructional campus construction by making projects financed and built through public-private partnerships eligible for a property tax break. Atlanta Business Chronicle (blog)

FL: Editorial: Good old days weren’t so good for education. . . As for pockets of low tests scores, they normally are connected with poverty and high concentrations of racial minorities. Ravitch says it would be more productive to do more about the root causes of poverty than to privatize the schools.  “Reformers in every era used the schools as punching bags,” she writes. Alternatives, such as charter schools or vouchers for private schools, are useful in providing competition, especially in areas where public schools have failed to provide quality education. But these options cannot and should not replace the mass education provided by public education. “When the public schools have appropriate policies, personnel, resources and vision to achieve attainable goals, they respond with positive achievement. “A citizen of a democratic society must be able to read critically, listen carefully, evaluate competing claims, weigh evidence and come to a thoughtful judgment.” We can do that in public schools. We must demand it.  The Florida Times Union

NJ: Opinion: Privatization rears its ugly head in NJ once again. This time, it’s at the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, where the Christie administration is myopically seeking to lay off and privatize as many as 800 jobs. If one were to look at the history of failed privatizations in our state and others, it would be painfully apparent that it’s not the solution to all the state’s ills. Even worse, it can often cost taxpayers more money to eventually undo it. The most high-profile example here in New Jersey was the Department of Motor Vehicles fiasco. In 1995, New Jersey privatized the DMV. A state legislative report issued in 2002 said the DMV privatization resulted in “poor, disjointed and confused service delivery without consistency which has led to confusion and frustration in the minds of New Jersey citizens.” The report also noted that privatization “resulted in poorly paid employees who have received inadequate benefits, resulting in a high turnover rate at DMV agencies.” In 2003, New Jersey returned the DMV to state control, and today it is run much more efficiently.   The Times, Trenton