Letter to NY Times submitted by Albert Gray.

Re: Education Is the Last Thing on Their Minds   

Your May 12 editorial, “Education is the Last Thing on their Minds,” regrettably sends the false message that ensuring educational integrity has to be at the expense of a higher education system that is accessible to every American. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As the largest national accreditor of private post-secondary colleges, ACICS does not tolerate deceptive recruitment practices at institutions we accredit. In the case of Education Management Corporation and all ACICS schools, we evaluate allegations and take appropriate enforcement action.

However, we cannot afford to deny access to higher education under a system that erroneously claims to maintain integrity, which is exactly what so-called “gainful employment” rules will do. We fully support standards that will help us continue to weed out bad actors. But further denying educational opportunities to an already underserved and disproportionately disadvantaged student population is unsatisfactory.

Albert C. Gray, Executive Director and CEO, Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools

Below is Anthony J. Guida Jr., Senior V.P., Regulatory Affairs, Education Management Corporation letter to NY Times.

For-Profit Colleges

The New York Times

May 18, 2011

To the Editor:

The May 12 editorial “Education Is the Last Thing on Their Minds” unfairly attacks the Education Management Corporation, an organization that has been helping Americans achieve the dream of a college education for more than 40 years.

The implication that our more than 158,000 students and 250,000 graduates have somehow been dealt with unscrupulously is baseless.

In 2002, the Department of Education enacted a regulation that made clear that schools could pay admissions representatives a merit-based salary provided it was not adjusted based “solely” on the number of students enrolled. Relying on this rule, and the advice of two pre-eminent law firms, Education Management implemented a compensation plan that complied with the regulation. The company acted responsibly and ethically to achieve compliance.

Critics of for-profit higher education opposed the 2002 regulation as reflecting unsound education policy and, as a result, a new regulation will become effective as of July 1.

By intervening in a lawsuit brought by former employees of our company (after having declined to intervene in some 25 similar actions), the government is essentially ignoring the regulatory process in an attempt to retroactively transform lawful conduct into unlawful conduct.

Senior V.P., Regulatory Affairs
Education Management Corporation
Pittsburgh, May 13, 2011