We ushered in 2009 on an air of hope and change. Eight years later, we have hope that the new Administration will change the previous Administration’s policies that were laser-focused on destroying one segment of higher education and advance the more-equitable philosophy of accountability parity across all institutions of higher education.
The past five years have been some of the darkest experienced by the industry. Vendors have struggled, as schools have struggled. Many have seen this fledgling Administration as the long-awaited panacea with promises of eliminating unnecessary, burdensome regulations and empowering new leadership at ED with a background in business and the possibility of finally leveling the playing field in higher education. However the quick relief we anticipated has yet to come to fruition and some signs by the Administration and ED have left us wondering.
While ED announced a delay in schools’ complying with Gainful Employment, there has been no movement to repeal or enter into a new negotiated rulemaking process to amend the rule. Additionally, ED recently defended the controversial policy against an American Association of Cosmetology Schools lawsuit. The Administration has seemingly abdicated responsibility for the regulation to ED, so the proverbial ball is in their court. Similarly, ED has provided the expected relief for the embattled Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
This uncertainty should breed advocacy not apathy. Those who are left in this industry remain because of strength and grit; we are fighters. The fight was not just against the previous Administration’s misguided policies as they were being implemented, but it is today as they persist in a new Administration. We must continue to be the purveyors of our students’ successes and achievements to both friends and foes in Washington, DC. We must continue to rally against unfair, ill-conceived regulations that fail to adequately measure the true worth of a career-focused education. We must continue to educate key decision-makers about the positive roles we play in our communities by giving a chance to those who might have otherwise slipped through the cracks. Invite Members of Congress to your campuses. Share your moving stories of triumph with the new staff at ED. Do not give up.
We have a window of opportunity to collectively speak with one voice in support of career education, but this movement will only be successful through majority participation. This Administration is still in the process of getting its “sea legs” in the area of higher education. We have an inherent responsibility to ensure that the issues critical to the survival of our industry are thoughtfully explained and persistently advocated. Participation begins by being part of a groundswell of voices calling for much-needed change and unprecedented parity within the greater higher education community. Strength in numbers holds true.
At the helm of this effort is Career Education Colleges and Universities (CECU). While the name has gone through a handful of changes over the years, the core mission remains the same: To advocate for a unique set of schools that provide high-quality, accessible career-focused higher education options. Yes, times are leaner. Yes, the urgency seems to have waned. Yes, the previous Administration is finally gone. But, we have news for you: the fight is not over. Consider getting back in the ring. Consider attending the CECU Annual Convention in Las Vegas, NV June 6-8, 2017. Listen to what they have to say and decide to be involved. We are still in an “all hands on deck” situation and we will be at the show to show our support and learn how we can do more to advance our priorities. We hope to see you there.