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David Halperin
David Halperin advises organizations on strategy, policy, politics, communications, and legal matters, and he writes at He was previously: founding director of Campus Progress and senior vice president at the Center for American Progress; senior policy advisor for Howard Dean's presidential campaign; founding executive director of the American Constitution Society; White House speechwriter and special assistant for national security affairs to President Clinton; co-founder of the Internet company RealNetworks; and counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Entries by David Halperin

House Democrat Group Asks Administration to Forgive Debt of All Corinthian Students

(0) Comments | Posted September 29, 2015 | 8:20 AM


A group of Democratic members of the House of Representatives are sending a letter this morning calling on the Department of Education to "automatically discharge the debt" of all students who attended campuses run by now-bankrupt Corinthian Colleges, one of the worst...

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For-Profit College Lobbyist Explains Decades of Fraud as Humanitarian Mission

(0) Comments | Posted September 23, 2015 | 2:25 PM


A Politico profile of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan quotes just two commenters regarding the Obama Administration's effort to curb abuses by for-profit colleges, and both of them have been long-time lobbyists for the industry: bulldog lawyer Lanny Davis and former...

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Massachusetts Attorney General: For-Profit College Kaplan Deceived Students

(4) Comments | Posted July 30, 2015 | 8:00 PM

Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey today announced settlements of her investigations of two large for-profit college chains -- Kaplan and Lincoln Technical Institute -- for unfair and deceptive student recruiting practices. Kaplan will pay $1.375 million to former students, and Lincoln Tech will pay out about $1 million.


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Corinthian to Justice Dept: Get Our Docs Before ECMC Abandons Them

(11) Comments | Posted July 20, 2015 | 2:38 PM

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A lawyer for shut-down Corinthian Colleges has written to a U.S. Justice Department lawyer investigating the for-profit college company, warning that some school records may be "abandoned" as soon as next month. The June 29 letter, obtained by Republic...

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Debt Collection Agency Run By Ex-Bush Official & Ex-Corinthian Exec Sues to Pile More Penalties on Broke Students

(14) Comments | Posted July 17, 2015 | 3:17 PM


Inside Higher Ed reports today that USA Funds, a corporation engaged in collecting federal student loan debts from borrowers, has sued the U.S. Department of Education over a policy statement the Department released last week barring companies from charging loan...

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APSCU Letter to For-Profit Colleges: Our New Direction

(0) Comments | Posted July 15, 2015 | 12:32 PM

Former congressman Steve Gunderson (R-WI), president of the for-profit colleges' main trade association, APSCU, this morning sent a dramatically-worded letter to APSCU members announcing organizational changes that "have the potential to create a new beginning for the sector and...
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Big For-Profit Colleges Quit Trade Group APSCU

(4) Comments | Posted July 14, 2015 | 10:50 AM

Some of the largest for-profit college companies -- including, last month, DeVry and Kaplan -- have recently left the industry's main trade group, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU). The defections have come amid a rapid decline in the reputations and fortunes of many for-profit colleges --...

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GOP Candidates Compete in For-Profit College Primary

(0) Comments | Posted July 8, 2015 | 4:39 PM

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As the 2012 GOP nomination contest neared the critical Iowa caucuses, Mitt Romney was asked by the Ames Tribune's editorial board what he planned to do about higher education. Romney's response was crystal-clear: He liked for-profit colleges, especially...

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Meet the Lawyers Who Pushed the Supreme Court to Block Toxic Power Plant Rules

(10) Comments | Posted June 29, 2015 | 3:36 PM


In the last announced decision of its term, the U.S. Supreme Court today, by a 5-4 vote and an opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia, struck down the Environmental Protection Agency's carefully crafted rules to limit the emission of mercury and...

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Arne Duncan Transcript: Some For-Profit Colleges Have "the Ethics of Payday Lending"

(1) Comments | Posted June 10, 2015 | 6:54 PM


On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Under Secretary Ted Mitchell had a conference call for reporters to announce the Department's plans to offer debt relief for students from the now-collapsed, predatory Corinthian Colleges. I offered some analysis...

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Unveiling Student Debt Relief, Duncan Hits For-Profit College Industry and Its Friends in Congress

(4) Comments | Posted June 8, 2015 | 3:49 PM

arneduncanU.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan just announced a debt relief package for students who attended schools run by now-bankrupt Corinthian Colleges. In doing so, Duncan sharply attacked for-profit colleges that have engaged in fraudulent acts, and he criticized members of Congress who have...

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Scholarship Started by Donald Graham Sends Donor Money to Graham's For-Profit College

(0) Comments | Posted May 29, 2015 | 12:34 AM

The New York Post today reports on an astounding fact that has been in plain sight for more than a year: Washington business scion Donald Graham has co-founded a scholarship program for young immigrants that is sending some of its students, and donor dollars, to colleges owned by Donald Graham's...

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Corinthian CEO Led For-Profit College Industry PAC

(1) Comments | Posted May 26, 2015 | 7:00 AM

An email newsletter obtained by Republic Report reveals that the political action committee of APSCU, the main lobbying group of for-profit colleges, was headed in 2012 by Jack Massimino, CEO of the now disgraced, bankrupt Corinthian Colleges. The newsletter also highlights the active involvement in APSCUPAC of other for-profit...

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In Court, For-Profit Colleges Demand End to Gainful Employment Rule

(14) Comments | Posted May 20, 2015 | 6:22 PM

The big for-profit colleges were back in court in Washington again this morning, arguing to a federal judge that the Obama Administration did not have the power to subject them to even the most minimal standards of accountability for leaving their students with overwhelming...
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Corinthian Colleges Fired Teachers Via Robo-Calls

(7) Comments | Posted May 19, 2015 | 10:14 AM

It's been apparent for years that the for-profit college chain Corinthian systematically deceived and mistreated its students. Less well-understood has been the company's abuse of its workers, many of them hard-working and sincere teachers and administrators. Many were underpaid, many...
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Jeb Bush Campaign Adviser Serves on Board of Predatory College ITT

(5) Comments | Posted May 12, 2015 | 8:05 PM


Former Congressman Vin Weber (R-MN) is an advisor to the unofficial presidential campaign of Jeb Bush, as both Weber and the Bush camp have confirmed. Weber recently told Fox News, "I think that Governor Bush is right on track in...

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The Era of Predatory For-Profit Colleges Might Be Over

(19) Comments | Posted May 9, 2015 | 11:09 PM


Even if predatory for-profit college companies can hang on for a period, restoring revenues while retaining their abusive practices, the era where they blatantly and arrogantly rip off and students and taxpayers, while Washington politicians and lobbyists do their bidding...

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50,000 Owed Money by Corinthian Colleges Include Lobbyists, Scammers

(0) Comments | Posted May 5, 2015 | 8:15 AM


Yesterday, Corinthian Colleges, one of the worst-behaving for-profit college companies, capped its dramatic collapse by filing for bankruptcy. A business that was getting as much as $1.4 billion a year in federal aid now has claimed in court that it...

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Corinthian Closing Misdeed: Allowing New Students to Enroll Just Before It Shut Down

(0) Comments | Posted April 29, 2015 | 4:13 PM


If you don't think there's enough to criticize in Corinthian College's long history of abuses, or in the U.S. Department of Education's handling of Corinthian, consider these facts.

After years asleep at the switch, allowing predatory for-profit colleges to rip off...

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Mom Misled by Kaplan For-Profit College: Part of Miami Herald's Blockbuster Industry Expose

(8) Comments | Posted April 24, 2015 | 9:47 AM

A blockbuster, year-in-the-making investigative series about the for-profit college industry appears online in the Miami Herald today, and, as industry analysts at BMO Capital Markets predicted earlier this week, "Obviously, this is not going to portray the industry in a positive light." It doesn't, but that's because the industry practices and conduct that the Herald found are simply abominable. (I have studied bad actors in this industry for five years and have found the same.) With both Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush already addressing this issue, it's one that's drawing increasing public attention.

The Herald's disclosures about the way for-profit colleges have ripped off students and taxpayers, while buying influence with powerful politicians, are too many to recount, but here are just a few bites to tempt you:

Student Rose Grier: "I specifically said, 'I can't take on loans,' and [the EDMC for-profit college recruiter] said 'Oh, you won't be taking on loans."

Grier said it was a few months after enrolling in 2010 when she received statements in the mail showing she had already tallied nearly $4,000 in loans. Grier was stuck, and loan servicer Sallie Mae would demand payment.

"Sir, why did you leave Kaplan [for-profit college]?" [Florida] Assistant Attorney General Rene Harrod asked former recruiter Mark Stegall on Nov. 22, 2010.

"I was disgusted with myself," Stegall responded. Stegall testified he had previously worked in other sales jobs, and "there are some things I don't feel bad about selling." But at Kaplan, he said, "you just felt like you were putting these people who were already in a bad situation in life in a worse one."

And, regarding an employee's whistleblower lawsuit against ATI Career Training Center, a for-profit college that was shut down by the U.S. Justice Department amid allegations of systematic fraud:

The lawsuit states that a fake high school diploma from Haiti was frequently used to enroll non-eligible students -- this one document was re-used over and over, with only the student's name and graduation date changed.

And this gem, showing how the people overseeing deceptive college operations that get shut down often re-emerge at new companies to chase the lucrative federal dollars involved:

As ATI campuses closed down, Ancora Education, a Texas-based company, announced it had acquired six ATI vocational schools. The CEO of Ancora was Michael Zawisky.... Zawisky's previous job was chief operating officer at ATI.

Please go read this series. The for-profit college industry has been receiving more than $30 billion a year of your tax dollars, and, while there are good programs in the sector, many bad programs -- programs that ruin students' lives -- continue operating to this day.

(You may note that many of the advertisements on the Herald series' web pages are for Keiser University, one of the schools most scrutinized in the report.)

And watch the Herald's video above, where a Florida mom, Sara Pierce, recounts how she believes she was misled by a recruiter for Kaplan University into signing up for an online bachelor's degree program in Nutrition Science. Pierce thought the program would directly qualify her to be a licensed nutritionist, when in fact it was not accredited by the appropriate agency.

When, near the end of her studies, a professor let Pierce know that the degree would not make her eligible for the job she sought, and she complained, the school pointed her to fine print in a Kaplan manual. But come on. Had Pierce actually known the low value of the degree, she would not have enrolled. And we see this again and again with for-profit colleges, including Kaplan -- companies that have fine-tuned the art of deceptive selling, especially to busy single parents, low-income 18-year-olds, returning veterans, immigrants, and others dreaming of a better life and not always positioned to detect scams.

Sara Pierce says she was left "completely numb" and $40,000 in debt by her experience at Kaplan. Apparently now working as a bartender, Pierce speaks directly to Kaplan's boss: "I would like to tell who ever runs this ... put yourself in my shoes."

The man who runs the company that operates Kaplan University is Donald Graham. You might recognize the name, because his company, now called Graham Holdings, also operated, until 2013, a newspaper, when the company was called The Washington Post Company. Graham is a pillar of the DC establishment, and that stature has made him perhaps the most influential lobbyist for the for-profit college industry in its fight to defeat stronger measures to hold bad actors accountable for waste, fraud, and abuse with taxpayer dollars. Based on Graham's relentless vouching, influential Washingtonians have said to me again and again,"Kaplan -- that's one of the good ones, right?"  It's not.  And, by the way, Graham Holdings has long held a major stake in Corinthian Colleges, the collapsing for-profit college chain that has behaved so badly that even the rest of the industry has now thrown it under the bus.

This article also appears on Republic...

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