Brian Moran with Chip Woodrum at RVDW Fundraiser
Brian Moran, the Virginia Democratic Party chair is still coming under attack for his day job as a spokesperson and lobbyist for Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities. The APSCU defends for-profit colleges that are said to offer students little hope of “gainful” employment but leave them with mounds of private and federal student loan debt.
Moran took the reins of the Democratic Party of Virginia chairmanship after Dick Cranwell resigned at the end of 2010. To the chagrin of progressive bloggers like Lowell Feld’s Blue Virginia and Ben Tribbitt’s Not Larry Sabato he became chair over their preferred candidate Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Peter Rousselot.
Moran they say is in direct opposition to President Obama’s clamp down on abuse by many of the for-profit colleges that prey on minorities and veterans.
Besides having been in the House of Delegates Moran ran for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2009 coming in third behind Creigh Deeds and Terry McAuliffe.
Progressives continue to demand Moran’s resignation. Virginia law states that the chairman or any full-time paid employee of a state political party shall not be employed as a lobbyist by any principal. An attorney concluded it meant a lobbyist for the state and not a federal lobbyist as Moran is for the APSCU.
I sat down with Brian Moran when he was in Roanoke to ask him about this conflict that still “dogs” him.
Moran said that as an unpaid chairman of the party “I have to make a living.” Higher education has always been a passion he said but “I freely admit that there are some challenges to our sector.”
He said President Obama’s goal is to be number one in the world by 2020 and to reach that goal according to the Department of Education 10 million more students need to be educated. Only 41 percent of students go beyond a high school education said Moran. Adult learners account for most of the need.
“Our schools educate the adult learners,” said Moran. “They offer career focused education … you are not going there for anything other than education. It’s not a social experience – no football games, no fraternities. They are taking a lot of courses online.” Moran referenced the law signed this year by Governor McDonnell that requires high school students to take one virtual course to graduate. “Our schools are doing that,” he said.
“I’m familiar of the critics believe me,” said Moran.
He said that the criticism is lodged at the sector but there is a lot of good innovation in the sector as well. “I’m making sure that everyone of our students that attends one of our schools gets a quality education and helps them find a job.” The objective is to make sure they are taking courses that equip them for jobs that are in demand like health care and information technology.
When asked about the schools that may be “milking federal dollars” he said that there are regulations at all levels of government already that includes creditors. For-profit colleges are said to account for the largest portion of student loan debt.
According to Susan Adams of Forbes: “For-profit schools educate 11% of U.S. post-secondary students, but those students carry 26% of the nation’s student loans and they make up 43% of those who default, according to the DOE.” They cost twice as much as state colleges.
As far as the federal student loan default crisis Moran said that “for-profit colleges only account for five percent of the one trillion of student loan debt.” Students need to consider “are you getting into a program that is going to be able to accommodate that debt.”
“All of our schools that are members of our association are accredited nationally and regionally.” Those regionally accredited are the same ones that accredit Virginia Tech he said.
“When things do occur they get slapped down,” said Moran. They will lose accreditation and access to federal loans. He thought too that the sector has experienced growing pains and a lot of that is being sorted out.
Moran said that he meets many successful students from for-profit colleges who say they received a good education but that “every time [for-profit colleges] are attacked it is diminishing the value of their education.”