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

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The College Caste System: Feeding the Corporate Welfare Colleges to Miseducate the Poor and the Homeless

Yielding to pressure from the for-profit corporate college lobbyists, earlier this year the Congress cut funding for the expansion of community colleges from $12 billion to $2 billion.  Meanwhile, the President reads the script handed him by the Chamber of Commerce to guarantee that college for the lower caste is turned over to corporate exploitation: 
Every American will need to get more than a high school diploma, and by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.
So with money choked off from the community college expansion and with broke states starving out the public colleges and universities, where to turn to make the President's pledge come true?

That's right, the poor can turn to the schemers and scammers of the for-profit online diploma mills like Phoenix, Kaplan, Capella, Grand Canyon U., and Drake, any of which may be found on any given day down at the homeless shelters and soup kitchens recruiting new students.  For if you can sign your name, you can get fixed up with a federal loan that goes into the corporate pockets of these bloodsuckers, while leaving students even more destitute, with debt they can never repay, no skills, and a useless piece of paper.  All on the public dime, and all protected by the U. S. Department of Education, which just offered up new guidelines for the corporate colleges that are being cheered by the for-profit bottom feeders.  On June 16, the Wall Street Journal headline was "For Profit College Investors Cheer Education Dept Proposals":

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--For-profit college investors applauded the U.S. Department of Education's announcement Wednesday of a number of proposed reforms covering higher education, though analysts warn stocks could see pressure down the line as one issue remains unresolved.
The government-proposed reforms cover 13 major shortcomings in higher education, but the department said it will hold its recommendations on the 14th--a measure that would penalize schools for graduating students with high debt loads--until later this summer. Investors were excited to see the government take a more studied approach after industry lobbyists warned the proposal could "crush" the for-profit school sector.
Shares of DeVry Inc. (DV), a school some analysts say would be hit hard by the delayed proposal, were recently trading up 2% to $57.48, while Apollo Group Inc. (APOL) gained 2% to $49.27. American Public Education Inc. (APEI) was up 1.2% to $46.81 and Capella Education Co. (CPLA) climbed 1.2% to $86.62.
The delayed proposal, intended to judge schools on how well they prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation, was expected to force many programs to cut tuition or even shut down entirely. The Education Department has recommended that programs disclose job placement and graduation rates, as well as student debt loads, by June 2013, but said it will continue to study possible metrics by which to judge school success and will release another proposal on that subject later this summer.
"Some key issues around gainful employment are complicated and we want to get it right so we will be coming back with that shortly," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement. . . .
That is to say, we don't want to offend any of the oligarchs until after the November election, and we don't want to lose any youth vote, either, by showing our hand.  Here is a thoughtful piece on the new proposed regulations that are open to public comment until August.  A clip:

The U.S. Department of Education is proposing new rules to oversee the growing field of for-profit higher education, but it kicked the can down the road on the most controversial idea: making institutions prove that their graduates find “gainful employment.”
Doing that would require some complicated and uncomfortable math for the schools: calculating “debt-to-income loads,” which is the ratio between how much a graduate owes in student loans and how much he or she earns. If the salaries are insufficient to pay off the debts – a common complaint among graduates of for-profits – the institutions would lose federal education funding and likely close.
With billions of dollars at stake, for-profit colleges lobbied heavily against a plan floated a few months ago by the Education Department to link gainful employment to an 8 percent debt-to-income load, which the industry said would put many programs out of business. The lobbying appears to have worked to shelve that proposal, at least for now: on Tuesday, the department announced new rules covering 13 of 14 areas of for-profit higher education reform, leaving the gainful employment proposal for “later in the summer.” . . . .

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