Corinthian Colleges, which paid $6.5 million in 2007 to avoid a lawsuit alleging it misled students about career opportunities, is running full page newspaper ads warning that Gainful Employment regulations will cost 100,000 jobs and prevent a million students from going to college (see below). The ad campaign, which purports to defend students but instead seeks to instill fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the regulations, is a classic example of manufactured evidence and astroturf industry lobbying. The worst part is the blatant attempt to position Corinthian as the defender of low-income and minority students, the same students saddled with debt.
On the accompanying web site, Corinthian cites an “independent analysis by the Parthenon Group” as the basis for its “facts.” Parthenon Group, author of the “independent analysis,” is the for-profit education consultant that boasts: “In addition to our corporate clients, Parthenon has been an advisor to nearly every major education transaction in the sector over the past several years.” No skin in the game at all!
And, while the Parthenon Group’s analysis is straight from the “throw a bunch of statistics and footnotes into a dense, unreadable paper and hope no one notices that we pulled these numbers from thin air” school of research, a big piece of the argument is that the regulations will make many more schools ineligible for federal financial aid because the students take on way more debt than assumed.
If we were debating new health regulations, it’d be like a restaurant association claiming that because the number of rat infestations is actually much worse than assumed, the proposed ordinance would close too many restaurants.