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

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Starbucks, ASU, and Pearson Scam

If you thought wow! yesterday when Starbucks announced that CoffeeCorp will fund its employees' college educations from here on out, look a little closer before you fill up your mug.  

First off, Arizona State has joined the state-run exploitation college model perfected by the University of Maryland, whereby overseas military personnel and the stateside poor pay for junk degrees while funding lavish campus health clubs and libraries that only the on-campus college crowd can take advantage of.  UMaryland's profits were $350 million annually in 2012.  

ASU hopes to be raking in $200 million a year by 2020 to make party central even more fun the youngsters who can afford to go there.  And who is managing ASU's online biz?  Who else--Pearson.  Alway Earning!

With the help of Starbucks public relations gimmick, ASU may reach its goal sooner than 2020. From MSNBC on Starbucks "free college education":

. . . Sounds great, right? Not according to Sara Goldrick-Rab, professor of educational policy studies and sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who said she found it “incredibly problematic” that Starbucks has decided to limit its tuition assistance to a single online university.

“ASU Online is a profit venture,” said Goldrick-Rab. “And basically, these two businesses have gotten together and created a monopoly on college ventures for Starbucks employees.”
Although ASU is a public university, its online wing is definitely a revenue-generating enterprise, helping the university manage its finances in an era of declining state aid. Online courses are taught by ASU professors, but much of the technical and administrative work that goes into managing ASU Online has been handed over to a private company, Pearson.
In addition to limiting student choices, Goldrick-Rab said she believes it will leave them with a shoddier education. Recent research [follow the link] has suggested that online-only classes may leave low-income students at a disadvantage. Those are precisely the people, said Goldrick-Rab, who are mostly likely to enroll in ASU Online through the Starbucks program.

“These studies indicate that online education not only doesn’t work well for them, but can also propel them backwards,” she said. Students would also expected to become full-time students, while still working an average 20 hours per week at Starbucks. . . .


  1. Anonymous3:45 AM

    Arizona State University is a scam. It is a low-result, crooked, scandal-soaked law- and charter-ignoring mass sheepskin factory that enjoys a near-monopoly in one of the largest cities of America. There is no comparable situation in higher education anywhere in the country. Many large American cities (e.g. Boston, LA) enjoy multi-institutional environments featuring different kinds of educational institutions, both public and private, which can focus on their competitive advantages, generate healthy competition in best educational practices, and yield superior economic diversification. ASU, however, has been highly successful at keeping competitors out while draining Arizona tax coffers and relegating the vast majority of its students to unemployment or low-wage schleb jobs in one of the lowest paid and least diversified urban economies in the nation. As a result of the near-monopoly ASU enjoys, internal practices, institutional student treatment, and standards of instruction are shoddy at best, resulting in classes packed with hundreds of students, frequent advising "mishaps," rules broken by departments and faculty, and ultimately an unenviable 29% 4-year graduation rate for undergraduates.

    Being the only game in town, along with the peculiar and frequently altered division of labor that exists among the state's three universities, means that ASU tries (sort of) to be everything to everyone while failing miserably. It initially was a teachers' college, then it became a mass-market diploma factory with an emphasis on parties and football, then it also wanted to be the state research center (initially the position held by U of A), then it wanted to be an international student magnet, then it wanted to be the premier in-state destination for bright students (again, originally directed at U of A) and then it also wanted to be the undergraduate destination for Californian and Mexican students. Like a cut-rate University of California without the reputation, ASU campuses "specializing" in various subjects have proliferated across Phoenix and neighboring cities to prevent competition and ease crowding at the main campus, where students now number over 60,000. Recently it's been in talks to absorb the floundering Thunderbird graduate business program, and once ASU does this it will have the primary business graduate program in the Phoenix area, with very little competition. Notice that nowhere in this history does ASU actually adhere to its public charter or designated responsibility, and this demonstrates ASU's commitment to and regard for its captive in-state student market.

    This agreement with Starbucks makes a mockery of what was originally a profoundly transformative program enabling Starbucks' employees access to higher education. Now they have access to ASU, sort of, subject to conditions that ASU will exploit to their detriment, all to get the online version of the most commonplace and useless degree found in America today.

  2. Anonymous6:32 PM

    As yet nobody has uncovered the real "scam" is Starbucks gets to offer the program, ASU gets the tuition and then 90% of the folks who enroll thinking online is "easy" are bounced from the program in the first month. Like tennis courts at a condo, the perfect benefit is one everybody believes they want but which almost no one takes advantage of.

  3. Now I know. The breathless gals on the radio ads sound so honest. They make you want to enroll right now! No way, too good to be true.