John Kline wants to kill for-profit education reform

Rep. John Kline: No new oversight on my watch.

Rep. John Kline: No new oversight on my watch.

When we told you about the problems plaguing the for-profit education industry in our cover story November, there was still a glimmer of hope: the Senate was considering stricter regulations to stop shoveling federal money to schools that care more about turning a profit than benefiting their students.

That hope is now being squelched, courtesy of Minnesota's own Rep. John Kline. Don't be surprised, though. Look at his campaign's donor list.

Kline, riding the new Republican congressional majority all the way to the chairmanship of the House Education Committee, has pledged to kill the reforms being contemplated by his Senate counterpart, Iowa's Tom Harkin, who has been leading the investigation.

"I would push back really hard against a bill that might come out of Chairman Harkin's committee," Kline told Reuters this month.

Kline's opposition to any stricter rules is hardly a surprise -- the man knows which side his bread is buttered on.

Education interests topped Kline's donor list this year. A quick perusal of donations to his campaign committee and Political Action Committee shows big money coming in from a variety of for-profit institutions and trade groups.

Among Kline's top donors:

  • $15,250 from Corinthian Colleges
  • $15,000 from the Career College Association
  • $8,100 from Rasmussen College
  • $8,000 from the Apollo Group, which owns the University of Phoenix
  • $5,000 from Keiser University

Kline's position may be bad news for students who want to know they're not going up to their eyeballs in debt for an education that leaves them unemployable. But it's good news for the people who make money off those students.

For-profit education stocks had taken a beating during this year's senate hearings. But since the GOP election landslide handed Kline the house chairmanship, those stocks are up 8.5 percent.