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On Eve of Election, Congressman John Kline Says For-Profit Colleges Need to Be Accountable

From left, Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline, Independence Party candidate Paula Overby, and DFL candidate Mike Obermueller, all vying for MN's second congressional district

From left, Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline, Independence Party candidate Paula Overby, and DFL candidate Mike Obermueller, all vying for MN's second congressional district

Last week, the Star Tribune endorsed John Kline for a seventh term in office, pardoning the Republican congressman for "a reputation that has been tarnished by his coziness with for-profit colleges." The editorial board credited the former marine for, among other things, his expertise on foreign policy issues and his work on protecting child sex trafficking victims.

The endorsement concluded: "Voters would be shortsighted to dismiss a candidate with Kline's clout. The silver-haired representative deserves their support, with the caveat that he needs to more aggressively hold disreputable for-profit colleges accountable."

See also:
John Kline's Descent From Patriot to the Whore of Higher Ed



That last word now clings to him. During a KSTP debate Sunday, Kline responded to a question about student loan debt and for-profit colleges by saying, "We need to have that sector accountable and make it work and give people the opportunity to go back and get the skills that they need for meaningful employment."

Of course, what he didn't say is that he's repeatedly protected his friends in the for-profit college sector who get rich while graduating an astonishingly low number of students. As
chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Kline helped block legislation that would have actually made those colleges accountable.

or instance, as we documented last week in a cover story, Kline championed a bill that blocked the government from enforcing any standards that might strip a school of its federal money or requiring colleges to disclose graduation rates and median student
debt-loads. He also spearheaded the effort to tie student loan rates to the market -- rather than cap or even lower them -- and killed an initiative to stop colleges from targeting soldiers and their GI Bill cash.

These are things that would have helped students," said Mike Obermueller during the Sunday debate. "Congressman Kline has been in a position to help students and hasn't done it."

The Post-Bulletin had a very different take on Kline than the Star Tribune, though the folks in Rochester did not mention the congressman's "coziness" with higher ed (his campaign has pocketed nearly $900,000 since 2009). Rather, the Post-Bulletin criticized him for his role in shutting down the government over Obamacare.

"Sending Kline back to Washington would be rewarding him for failure," the paper wrote, reversing its 2012 endorsement.

Now how's that for accountability?

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