We Should De-Kline

Yesterday morning, I was doing my usual wake up routine; coffee and catching up on the news. One of the first stories that caught my eye was about the University of Phoenix having lost half its students over the last five years.

On Wednesday, Apollo Education Group (University of Phoenix’s parent company) announced that both revenues and enrollment were down 14% last quarter compared to a year ago. The market predictably responded; the stock was down 30% by the end of the trading day. But, what does this have to do with Occupy World Writes? And, what does de-Kline mean?

John Kline

John Kline

The Kline in this case refers to Congressman John Kline (R-MN), the Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. You might be familiar with him as being the “winning loser” of Bill Maher’s Flip a District campaign last election cycle. And, if you’re like us and you like to follow the money, you’d know that Apollo was his top campaign contributor last cycle. How much money? Let’s just say that Kline received almost $670,000 from Apollo and other for-profit universities. Unfortunately for all of us, he won re-election. This is doubly unfortunate for me, as he “represents” my district. But, I digress…

So, he gets lots of money from for-profit universities; what’s so bad about that? Basically, everything, especially if you’re the most powerful person in the House of Representatives as far as education goes. You see, for-profit colleges only account for 12% of the country’s college students, while at the same time the students attending them were responsible for fully half of student loan defaults in 2013.

Why so many? Because the for-profit colleges do a horrible job of educating their students for the most part, while milking them for every cent they can get. Students who transfer to a normal college or university quite often find that their credits aren’t transferable. Or, students who graduate from an “accredited” program find out that the accreditation means nothing. Or, students one semester away from graduation are told that they aren’t eligible for student loans any more. Or…

Kline’s done his best to do his masters’ bidding. In 2013, Kline championed a bill called the “Supporting Academic Freedom through Regulatory Relief Act,” which was about blocking an Obama administration “gainful employment” rule that would end taxpayer support for career training programs that consistently leave students with insurmountable loan debt. Of course, it also would have relaxed federal standards so that for-profit schools could more easily engage in deceptive recruiting practices.

However, last year he hit a new low. On July 10, legislation designed to prevent for-profit colleges from gaming the federal aid system and exploiting veterans died within 15 minutes of being introduced, because Kline ruled that it was unrelated to the topic of financial aid being discussed at the hearing.

There’s many other examples of Kline’s sellout to his biggest contributors. City Pages ran a scathing cover story right before the election about John Kline and the for-profit college industry; it’s recommended reading.

John Kline is a prime example of how money has corrupted our government. Instead of using his position to help the country move toward making a college education more affordable, he panders to the snake oil salesmen of the education field. Instead of trying to improve the academic standards for colleges, he protects the diploma mills.

We deserve better than having John Kline in such a position of power over the educational future of our citizens. That’s why we should de-Kline what Congress is trying to do to education in this country. Our future depends on it.


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