"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, February 03, 2006

Boehner, the Bane of Public Education

All Bush loyalists are eventually rewarded, and it would seem that Boehner is now getting his for actions as a steadfast lieutenant in the neo-con war on public education, whether aimed at kindergartens or graduate schools. The Bushies know, too, that there is so much more work yet to get done, with the upcoming recommendations from the Commission that Spellings hatched to build support for the corporatizing of the American university system. And, of course, there is the unfinished Whittle nitemare to use NCLB sanctions as the lever to privatize K-12 education and to soak up the half-trillion spent there every year. With jobs flooding overseas and with Harley-Davidson worth more than General Motors, education is the real growth industry--and all the unemployed energy traders from Enron are looking for an angle.

Who else, then, besides Boehner is better postioned to lead this wing of the corporate socialist phalanx? He already has availabe an able network of crooks and whores who know how to squeeze the giving tree and where to squeeze it. And he has just showed how he can deliver on student loan cuts to help assure more tax cutting, while at the same time lining the pockets of his largest contributors. He's perfect.

Here are just a couple of examples from news stories that do not even get into the scandals from the 90s. Boehner is, indeed, worthy of a lead role in the current regime.

First try this from the Post on Boehner's PAC that he calls the "Freedom Project":

In the most recent election cycle, 2003-2004, the Freedom Project received $572,719 from individuals, according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission and analyzed by PoliticalMoneyLine. More than half of that, $292,570, came from employees and lobbyists for private student lending companies and for-profit academic institutions.

Individuals affiliated with the private student-loan industry gave the PAC $220,020, including $52,670 from officers of Sallie Mae. Sallie Mae was established in 1972 as a government-sponsored organization that over the past decade has become privatized, and is now a Fortune 500 company specializing in student loans.

Boehner's PAC received $72,550 in donations from employees and lobbyists from for-profit colleges and trade schools.

The largest single source of money from the for-profits, $17,500, was given by corporate officers and senior employees of California-based Corinthian Colleges Inc., a for-profit educational firm which disclosed eight weeks ago that the Florida attorney general is investigating a Florida subsidiary.

Boehner has sponsored legislation strongly supported by private student lenders to restrict the ability of the U.S. Department of Education to make government student loans less expensive by cutting fees. Student loans constitute a multibillion-dollar market in which the nonprofit government and for-profit private lenders compete.

During the current congressional session, Boehner's committee endorsed his legislation to allow the for-profit colleges and trade schools to gain millions of dollars in federal subsidies.

The measure would eliminate 1992 regulations designed to prevent the for-profits from signing up unqualified students and collecting student loans for tuition. Boehner would bar traditional colleges from denying credits earned at for-profits on the grounds that the for-profits are not accredited.

The Boehner proposals to deregulate the for-profit schools was strongly opposed by a coalition including the United States Student Association, American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, the National Association for College Admission Counseling and the American Federation of Teachers. They cited a series of recent controversies and investigations involving the for-profit colleges.

"Boehner has been a supporter of" for-profit colleges and trade schools, and private student lenders "since he first came to Congress," said Don Seymour Jr., his press secretary. Other staff members pointed out that as a conservative Republican, Boehner believes private-sector companies subject to market forces will likely provide better and cheaper services than the government.

Critics of Boehner argue, however, that he has provided government subsidies and rules designed to give private-sector providers unfair advantages over public-sector loan and postsecondary education programs.

"The claims of being pro-free market are at complete odds with the behavior of this [Education and the Workforce] committee," said Barmak Nassirian of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. He said Boehner showed "chutzpah" in citing competitive markets when the education committee in practice promotes a "command and control system for lenders, with guaranteed outcomes."

Then sample this story from Forbes.com, which makes a nice addendum:

As chair of the education committee, he [Boehner] has championed the schools' position that students, who have earned credits in the for-profits, should be able to transfer them more easily to traditional, not-for-profit private and public universities.

He also wants to force students at traditional universities to fund 10% of their education with money from non-government sources, just as those at for-profits are required to. Such changes would put Corinthian Colleges (nasdaq: COCO - news - people ), Apollo (nasdaq: APOL - news - people ), Career Education (nasdaq: CECO - news - people ) and Education Management (nasdaq: EDMC - news - people ) on a more equal footing with not-for-profit universities.

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