Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) stirred up controversy again when, in a speech addressed to the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, she alluded to the Holocaust in her condemnation of private college presidents—for not standing up to the federal government when it passed new regulations on for-profit colleges.
Inside Higher Ed reported Foxx said "They came for the for-profits, and I didn't speak up…," adapting her prose to mimic German theologian Martin Niemöller's famous quote: "Nobody really spoke up like they should have" and "First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a communist."
Foxx's remarks referenced the Obama administration proposals, which required "career college programs to better prepare students for 'gainful employment' or risk losing access to Federal student aid."
Over the last decade, the for-profit college system has grown significantly (about 225 percent) and have become a major presence in the realm of higher education. Yet, this growth has been accompanied by concerns regarding the effectiveness of such institutions.
There are two statistics that signal two major reasons for concern: 25 percent of all Federal student aid goes to for-profit institutions and students at for-profit schools account for 47 percent of all student loan defaults. With such staggering amounts of student debt and high attrition rates—about 250,000 Associate degree-seeking students and 118,000 Bachelor's degree-seeking students left their programs without earning a degree—for-profit colleges are clearly failing in their role as an institution of higher education.
An investigation by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions concluded that many for-profit colleges’s main priority is to increase profits, not educate students. However, through the use of false information and deceitful recruitment techniques, for-profit colleges account for about 13 percent of the total number of students at institutions of higher education in the U.S.
Foxx has a staunch advocate of the controversial for-profit college system for several years, and when one peeks at her list of top contributors—which includes the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities—one can allude to why. During Foxx's first year on the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, she received over $48,668 from PACs and other individuals associated with for-profit colleges.
When asked if Foxx meant to compare the Obama's administrations' regulations of the for-profit college system to the Holocaust, Ericka Perryman, her spokeswoman, said, "Of course not."