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

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Next Too Big To Fail: For Profit Colleges

With a default rate of nearly 50 percent and with graduates holding a lot of meaningless and useless paper degrees and with the amount of for-profit student loan debt equal to the total amount of credit card indebtedness in all of America ($750 billion), we must wonder what is keeping Arne Duncan and the Dems from doing something to rein in these corporate welfare diploma mills whose administrators are getting deliriously wealthy from taxpayer-supported student loans.

Could the hesitation to stop the bilking and fraud have something to do with an Obama promise to return the U.S. to its #1 status in the number of college degrees? With Wall Street buying Congressional votes to halt the expansion of public colleges and universities, it seems that the for-profit phony-baloney colleges will have to play a vital role if the President is not to be embarrassed by making another promise he can't keep.

Besides, who are these profiteers at Argosy and Phoenix and Corinthian hurting, anyway? Certainly no one who matters, since they prey on the poor and the disenfranchised who believe that there is someone who is actually offering them real educations and real future jobs. More liar loans and no questions asked by these leeches who spend more on marketing than they do on instruction.

And so this is to be the present and future of the higher education caste system in America, where those who are privileged get real educations in real brick and mortar institutions--and those who are not privileged get online or strip mall after-hours "instruction" by over-extended and worn out adjuncts who, themselves, are just trying to pay the rent? And the bubble expands and expands.

Meanwhile, Arne Duncan is flying high, it seems, and far above this kind of messy and ugly business. And if you thought the witless Margaret Spellings was deluded with her 99.44% purity remarks about NCLB, Arne has done her one better by insisting for himself universal acclaim and no public opposition. From the NY Times:
A new survey by the Pew Research Center found distrust of government at its highest level in 30 years. Of all federal agencies, the department of education’s approval rating had fallen most sharply, to 40 percent from 61 percent in 1998. In fact, the department got the lowest rating of any federal agency, including the Internal Revenue Service. Mr. Duncan’s aides said the drop could reflect dissatisfaction with No Child Left Behind.

Mr. Duncan says he encounters no public opposition.

“Zero,” he said. “And as hard as we’re pushing everybody else to change, we’re pushing the department to change even more. There’s just an outpouring of support for the common-sense changes and the unprecedented investments we’re making.”

The whole segment of Frontline can be viewed here online.

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