Thompson Condemns Administration’s Gainful Employment Regulation

Jun 2, 2011 Issues: Education

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Obama Administration’s Department of Education issued the “gainful employment” regulation, a controversial policy that would impose arbitrary requirements on proprietary schools and deny access to career college students, particularly minority and low income students. There has been growing bipartisan opposition to the regulation, most recently with passage of a measure in the U.S. House of Representatives that would have prohibited funds from being used by the Department of Education for the purposes of implementing the rules.  Thompson, one of the most outspoken members of Congress on the issue, released the following statement: 

“For an Administration that claims to be the standard of transparency, the rule making process and subsequent regulation is shrouded in a cloud of secrecy alongside of substantial legal and ethical issues. From multiple Inspector General investigations to denied Freedom of Information Act requests, compounded by a redacted Government Accountability Office report and substantial allegations of collusion between high ranking Department of Education officials and Wall Street short sellers for economic gain, this process has been an eyesore for the American people and those seeking to advance themselves through the quality education that Career Colleges provide. I will continue work with the bipartisan majority in the House to oppose this flawed policy and will not stop until the numerous questions of impropriety have been answered.”

In March, Thompson during an oversight hearing before the House Education and Workforce Committee, prompted the U.S. Department of Education’s Inspector General Kathleen Tighe to further investigate allegations of improprieties within the Department of Education with regard to recently alleged communications between the department and Wall Street about proposed “gainful employment” regulations. 

During the hearing, Thompson submitted for the record a letter which cited a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that suggests high level officials at the Department of Education were speaking to hedge fund managers regarding the release date of proposed "Gainful Employment" regulations for proprietary career colleges, many of which are publicly traded entities. While Thompson pressed Inspector General Tighe to ensure that the department would be working with the Security and Exchange Commission to further investigate questions surrounding the FOIA findings, this matter remained unresolved as the department today moved to issue the regulation.  

Earlier this year, Thompson worked to advance a measure that would have prevented implementation of this harmful regulation. The measure, in the form of an amendment offered to the Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Appropriations Act, passed the full House with bipartisan support.  In April, Thompson joined members of the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation in sending a letter to Pennsylvania Senators Casey and Toomey, urging them to work to ensure that identical language from the House-passed bill be included as part of the final Senate version.  Unfortunately, it was not included in the final package signed into law by the President, allowing the continuation of the rule making process. 

More recently, Thompson joined the Chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee in sending a letter to the House Appropriations Committee, urging the House Appropriations Committee to include a provision in the Fiscal Year 2012 bill, which would prohibit the U.S. Department of Education’s implementation of the gainful employment regulation.