"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Deputy Undersecretary Compares For-Profit (Higher) Ed. to Wall Street Firms

On Thursday, the Department of Education criticized for-profit higher education providers. The profiteer's stocks tumbled. According to Inside Higher Ed, Deputy Undersecretary of Education Robert Shireman compared the institutions to the Wall Street firms whose behavior led to the economic collapse and even named names of predatory companies.

However, it's not just the higher education sector at-risk because of the Wall Street-esque practices: public K-12 education, too, is one of the emerging playing fields for the casino capitalists and non-educators looking to turn a quick buck (often at the expense of the most vulnerable and least financially stable).

Case in point would be the Academy for Recording Arts in California, which recently was ripped off by a subsidiary of the corporate hucksters slanging their education "goods" for DeVry. Here's a bit from the Daily Breeze:

Half of the teachers at a financially beleaguered Hawthorne charter school were terminated this week and those remaining will be forced to accept pay cuts, staff members said Friday.

Operators of the Academy for Recording Arts, better known as "Hip-Hop High," blamed an online education company that partnered with the school last July.

Advanced Academics Inc., an Oklahoma City-based learning company and subsidiary of DeVry, had agreed to provide funding and learning materials. But teachers said the academy never received the funding and the online learning materials resulted in low student achievement.


Dan Schlick, one of the five teachers who learned Thursday he would be losing his job, said the new curriculum model - which was mostly online - resulted in little success when it was implemented for the fall semester.

"It was hideous, unbelievable," said Schlick, explaining that only a fraction of the online courses were completed by students. Teachers, he said, were relegated to making sure students were logged into their accounts each day, rather than teaching course work.

Schlick and other teachers said they believe the company's motivation to have students log into their online accounts was to maintain ADA dollar, or per-pupil state funding.

School officials said Advanced Academics never paid the $350,000 agreed upon in the management agreement and the ADA the company expected never materialized. Firings, pay cuts, and the school's possible closure resulted, teachers said.

California's continued budget cuts, of course, also play a factor (and it's mentioned in the article). Maybe Deputy Undersecretary of Education Robert Shireman should take a peek at the K-12 sector, too.

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