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July 26, 2013 1:59 PM Virginia Foxx Is (Sort of) Right About the Federal Government and Education

By Daniel Luzer

Foxx

House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Chair Virginia Foxx, (R-NC) one of the progressive community’s favorite villains, has another winning line about American higher education. Except this time she’s got a point.

According to an article in the Huffington Post:

The federal government should have no role in trying to make college affordable, Rep. Virginia Foxx… said, backing legislation that would prevent the Obama administration from enforcing new rules on for-profit colleges.
“The attitude of our friends on the other side of the aisle, the attitude of the Department of Education, is that total control of our lives, especially education since that’s what we’re dealing with, should be done at the federal level,” Foxx said on Wednesday.
“It is not the role of the Congress to make college affordable and accessible,” Foxx went on to say. “That I think is the nub of the issue here.”

Foxx [above] is somewhat infamous in the higher education community for her opposition to all government regulation to keep college costs down, her lack of sympathy for student debt problems, and her support for continuing to shovel billions in federal money to for-profit colleges (which are among her biggest campaign donors), so few really see her as any great education visionary.

Historically, though, she’s right. The federal government has never played any role in keeping college costs down. The federal government, in fact, has no power over higher (or even primary and secondary) education whatsoever, expect though the money it provides education institutions and their students.

But as the former president of a community college, and a graduate of a public university, she should known damn well it’s been the job of the states to keep public institutions affordable. The fact that they’re failing to do so is the reason there’s any call for federal involvement at all.

Well also the for-profit college thing. The reason the federal government has an interest in “enforcing new rules on for-profit colleges” is not because anyone thinks that “total control of our lives… should be done at the federal level.” No it’s just that for-profit colleges collect $32 billion from the federal government and on average derive 70 percent of their revenue from the federal government.

That’s not about control over Americans’ lives; that’s about ensuring for-profit colleges aren’t wasting Americans’ money.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer