Jindal slams Obama for wanting to shutter schools offering debt instead of employment
Bobby Jindal (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on Friday slammed the Obama Administration's plan that would require "career colleges to do a better job of preparing students for gainful employment—or risk losing access to taxpayer-funded federal student aid."

According to the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, the administration's "gainful employment program" is designed to reform "low-performing programs" that leave students "saddled by debt and with few—if any—options for a career."

"The proposed regulations address growing concerns about unaffordable levels of loan debt for students enrolled in these programs by targeting the lowest-performing programs," he said, "while shining a light on best practices and giving all programs an opportunity to improve."

In an editorial at the Washington Times, however, Gov. Jindal accuses the administration of "[t]argeting only institutions that serve non-traditional students...who come from disproportionately low-income, African-American, and Hispanic communities."

He claims that the new federal standards -- intended to protect students by "requiring institutions to tell current and potential students about key outcomes, like average debt levels, earnings, loan repayment rates, loan default rates, and completion and withdrawal rates" -- will drive "quality programs" out of business.

"Facing new federal mandates that could put them out of business," Jindal wrote, "some institutions may respond by avoiding non-traditional students less likely to graduate -- thus reducing education access to those who need quality training most."

He then attacked privileged parents, like Obama, for not caring enough about the plight of non-traditional students. "It’s easy to talk about educational opportunities if you attended an Ivy League university," he wrote, "or if you have the financial resources to send your children to pricey private schools, as Obama has done. But it’s not so easy to get ahead if you’re a single parent desperately trying to find a better school for your children, or if you’re a good student from a low-income household seeking to become the first in your family to attend college. That’s why we need to empower parents and students with quality, customized educational choices that work to meet their needs."

Jindal emphasized the necessity of choice -- repeatedly advocating for an "all of the above" educational strategy that includes both charter schools and unaccredited trade colleges.

"[W]hen it comes to higher education," he wrote, "we need to provide our next generation a wide variety of choices -- from four-year degrees offered by traditional not-for-profit universities, to certificate programs offered by for-profit colleges, to specialized training programs offered by businesses looking to enhance their workers’ skills."

The Governor did not, however, address the issue of debt as it relates to attending these schools and colleges. In its proposal, the administration noted that "[s]tudents at for-profit colleges represent only about 13 percent of the total higher education population, but about 31 percent of all student loans and nearly half of all loan defaults. In the most recent data, about 22 percent of student borrowers at for-profit colleges defaulted on their loans within three years, compared to 13 percent of borrowers at public colleges."

["Bobby Jindal" via Gage Skidmore on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed]