A year ago this week, John Kline, Minnesota's Most Reprehensible Congressman (TM), hosted a job fair at the Eagan Community Center "to assist Minnesotans with an uncertain job market."
Among the Kline invitees looking to "assist" people trying to better their lot was a disproportionate number of for-profit colleges, including DeVry University, Crown College, and ITT Tech, the Carmel, Indiana-based company whose two executives were indicted on federal fraud charges earlier this week.
Kline's "Jobs & Career Fair" last May looked more like window dressing for the likes of ITT recruiters.
It's where booths of legit employers mining for new talent like Mystic Lake Casino and Sun Country Airlines, abut nearly a dozen belonging to for-profit higher ed schools looking to sign up new students and, in turn, tap into the easy tuition money that is federal education loans and grants.
ITT Tech has been especially adept at exploiting the federal student loan system for its own financial gain. This has come at the expense of taxpayers, who've made the company and its execs rich, and ITT students, many of whom drop out without degrees and leave school saddled by debt.
According to Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin's report on for-profit higher ed, ITT's revenues more than doubled from $758 million in 2006 to $1.6 billion in 2010.
Two-thirds of the dollars going to ITT coffers came from taxpayers.
In 2010 alone, the company took in $264 million in just Pell grants. That same year, 30,000 students -- or about 50 percent of the total number -- enrolled in ITT associate's programs dropped out. Over a third defaulted on their student loans.
ITT's financial fortunes have coincided with Rep. Kline's ascension to Washington political powerbroker.
The congressman's job fairs are but a cog in the machine that keeps the cycle going.
Kline hosts job fairs where for-profit schools land new students. Their tuition dollars from federal student loans and grants make the companies rich. These companies and their execs bankroll Kline's campaign committee.
As the powerful chairman of the House Committee of Education and the Workforce, the congressman plays devout obstructionist to any meaningful reform that would turn off the spigot of taxpayer dollars amounting to $32 billion annually.
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