- Tickets linked to stolen passports purchased by Iranian middleman
- More than 3,500 police planned for Boston Marathon
- Real-life Dr. Doolittle to reveal how to talk to animals
- Climate change could bring back smallpox, researchers say
- Shoe-bomb witness to speak from London at N.Y. trial
- New evidence could threaten Army sex assault case
- George Zimmerman signs autographs at Orlando gun show
- GOP lawmaker faces fire for NBA crime tweet
- Taliban vow to ‘use all force’ to disrupt Afghan elections
- Atheists sue to remove ‘Ground Zero Cross’ from 9/11 museum
GOP senators may boycott hearing on for-profit schools
Harkin defends tone of inquiries
Next month's Senate hearing on for-profit colleges could be a one-party affair.
Republicans members of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee last week sent a letter to Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, the committee chairman, protesting his handling of previous hearings on the subject and objecting to what they characterize as a merciless assault by Democrats on for-profit institutions.
Agreeing that skyrocketing tuition rates and the rising number of student-loan defaults are serious concerns, Republicans want Mr. Harkin to focus on finding solutions for all colleges and universities, not just nontraditional ones. If the tentatively scheduled May 10 hearing - the fifth in Mr. Harkin's series - goes on as currently planned, Republicans say they won't show up.
"The need to address these problems does not warrant the biased and unprofessional conduct we have witnessed during the past four hearings," reads a portion of the letter, signed by the 10 Republican HELP committee members. "It is unacceptable and uncharacteristic of the way this committee or this institution has historically conducted its business."
Mr. Harkin quickly responded with a letter of his own, citing "deeply troubling" problems in the for-profit sector of higher education and defending his long-standing focus on it.
"While I understand you may not like some of the findings, there is no basis to suggest the hearings have been anything other than professional and straightforward," he said in his April 14 letter.
A spokeswoman for HELP Committee Democrats said Monday that the May 10 date is not yet set in stone and that witnesses have not been announced.
For-profit institutions have come under increasing fire after an August 2010 report by the Government Accountability Office, which found that 15 randomly selected colleges made "deceptive or otherwise questionable statements" to GAO workers posing as prospective students. For example, the GAO found that one for-profit college encouraged a would-be student not to list $250,000 in savings on application documents, thus qualifying for government assistance.
Such instances have fueled Mr. Harkin's and other critics' arguments that for-profits, which boast 10 percent to 12 percent of the nation's college-student population, focus exclusively on boosting enrollment statistics and often pocketing taxpayer money from government grants and loans while providing a substandard education and experiencing higher drop-out rates.
But Republicans now dispute the GAO report, calling it "flawed" and citing the fact that the GAO issued an "errata" - a series of revisions - several months later.
While the GAO did adjust its report and conduct an internal review of why the changes were necessary, GAO Managing Director of Public Affairs Chuck Young said Monday that the office stands by the report and insisted that the errata did not change any of its key findings.
Republicans are also questioning the accuracy of statements made by some witnesses Democrats called in previous hearings.
On Aug. 4, a former admissions representative with Westwood College, a for-profit institution with campuses in six states, testified that the college pressured a student to stay enrolled so it could begin collecting tuition, despite the fact that the student had been called up from the Army Reserves to active duty and couldn't attend classes. In addition, a former Westwood student testified that she was misled about how much debt she would rack up while taking classes.
Westwood vehemently disputed those accusations. Internal reviews by college officials found that the August testimony was wildly inaccurate, according to a letter from D.C. law firm Dickstein Shapiro LLP, which represents the college. The letter was addressed to Mr. Harkin and ranking HELP Committee Republican Sen. Michael B. Enzi, Wyoming Republican.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ben Wolfgang covers the White House for The Washington Times.
Before joining the Times in March 2011, Ben spent four years as a political reporter at the Republican-Herald in Pottsville, Pa.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- White House: Exporting natural gas to Europe, Ukraine not the answer
- China's President Xi urges Obama to show restraint with Russia, urges diplomatic solution
- Russia besieges Crimea as U.S. seeks diplomacy; Putin remains undeterred by Obama's sanctions
- Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk to meet with Obama at White House
- Cruz: Putin taking advantage of Obama's weakness
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- CURL: Today's GOP really is Reagan's 'Big Tent' party
- Mitch McConnell on beating tea party: 'We are going to crush them'
- Charges filed against accused 'shadow campaign' financier
- SAUERBREY: Taxing Marylanders until they flee
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Atheists sue to remove 'Ground Zero Cross' from 9/11 museum
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- As Crimea falls, Obama takes Key Largo golf vacation, Biden hits Virgin Islands
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again