It is unfortunate your editorial on Aug. 1, “For-profit colleges not a good use of taxpayer funds,” gave an incomplete and unbalanced description of the report of Sen. Tom Harkin and the Democratic staff of the Senate HELP Committee.

You did not mention comments by the Republican minority that said the majority’s biased conduct throughout this process raised substantial doubt about the accuracy of the report.

Nor did you mention that the report covered 19 areas of school operations in addition to the student retention data you referenced. Or, that Education Management Corp. scored in the top half of the 15 companies reviewed in more than half of those categories — earning high marks for its investment in instruction and academics.

EDMC institutions graduate more than 18,000 undergraduates per year, 75 percent who are employed in the field of their studies or a related field within six months of graduation — even in this difficult economy.

EDMC isn’t satisfied with its student retention rate and continues to work to improve it.

Had committee staff calculated EDMC’s drop-out rate using the same methodology it used for the other companies, however, as well as identified all persisting students, our dropout rate would have been 10 percentage points lower than reported.

For further perspective, EDMC’s New England Institute of Art, for example, has a higher graduation rate than the University of Southern Maine, Maine College of Art and Husson University, according to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

All of us in higher education need to find ways for more students to complete their education, and we agree that educational institutions should be accountable for student success.

Accountability, however, should be demanded across all institutions, whether for-profit or nonprofit, and regardless of tax status.

Former Maine Gov. John R. McKernan Jr. is the chairman of Education Management Corp.

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