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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

Colorado Sues CollegeAmerica for Systematic Deception

(2) Comments | Posted February 17, 2015 | 10:33 PM


A state court in Denver has just unsealed the complaint that the Colorado attorney general brought late last year against CollegeAmerica / Stevens-Henager, a former for-profit college network that recently converted to non-profit status. The school's conversion seems to...

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Misleading Assurances in the Corinthian-ECMC Deal

(1) Comments | Posted February 13, 2015 | 3:52 PM


Student loan debt collection company ECMC has just begun its takeover of 56 campuses of the failed, predatory for-profit Corinthian Colleges. But already, assurances from both federal government officials and ECMC itself regarding protections for students in the deal appear to have...

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Inside the ECMC-Corinthian Deal: Will Students Be Protected?

(1) Comments | Posted January 23, 2015 | 12:49 PM


The U.S. Department of Education's ill-advised effort to broker the sale of 56 campuses of the discredited Corinthian for-profit college chain to ECMC, a student debt collection operation, has hit some snags. The transfer of campuses to ECMC has been delayed nearly...

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For-Profit College Investor Now Owns Controlling Share of Leading Education Trade Publication

(4) Comments | Posted January 14, 2015 | 1:46 PM


Quad Partners, a New York private equity firm that is invested heavily in the for-profit college industry, and whose founder has aggressively opposed regulation of that troubled industry, has acquired a controlling stake in the respected trade publication Inside Higher Ed (IHE),...

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Declaring Corinthian Colleges Too Big To Fail: A Terrible Idea

(0) Comments | Posted December 17, 2014 | 1:26 PM


The U.S. Department of Education has blessed a deal under which a non-profit student debt collection company, Minnesota-based Education Credit Management Corporation (ECMC), will pay $24 million to acquire 56 campuses, operating under the brands Everest and WyoTech, owned...

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30 Years After Bhopal, Long Past Time to Make Chemical Plants Safer

(0) Comments | Posted December 10, 2014 | 11:18 AM

Geismar LA

Thirty years ago this month, a gas leak at a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, created a toxic cloud that eventually killed perhaps 20,000 people and injured 500,000 more. No chemical accident since then has approached the scale of the...

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Neutron CEO Tells Customers That Republic Report Stories Are False; Ex-Employees Disagree

(0) Comments | Posted December 5, 2014 | 8:34 AM

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 6.30.55 PM

While one for-profit college in Miami, called FastTrain, has just been sued by law enforcement for, among other things, allegedly hiring scantily-clad women to lure men to its admissions office (an allegation noted by Republic Report back...

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For-Profit College Marketer Thrived By Posting Fake Ads To Popular Job Sites

(6) Comments | Posted November 24, 2014 | 4:28 PM

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Neutron Interactive, a Salt Lake City-based business, regularly posted fake job listings on popular job websites including and for the purpose of tricking job-seekers into visiting its own websites, according to former Neutron employees. These Neutron...

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ECMC CEO Explains Deal to Buy Troubled Corinthian Campuses

(3) Comments | Posted November 20, 2014 | 1:00 PM


Confirming rumors that have swirled for weeks, today ECMC Group announced it has reached an agreement to acquire 56 of the 107 campuses now owned by the crumbling, discredited Corinthian Colleges for-profit chain.  A corporate filing from Corinthian says the...

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Still More Scam For-Profit College Websites -- Linked to Dallas Mystery Man

(2) Comments | Posted November 13, 2014 | 5:55 PM


I reported yesterday and this morning on scam websites that promise people help with jobs, food stamps, heat assistance, Medicaid -- things that low-income and working Americans want -- but the sites are really just fronts to get people's phone numbers,...

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More Scam Websites to Lure the Poor to For-Profit Colleges

(1) Comments | Posted November 13, 2014 | 2:51 PM

Yesterday I reported on how a Utah-based company, Neutron Interactive, operated a website that promised jobs but was in reality a scam -- it seemed to function mainly to send customer leads to at least one other company's Salt Lake City call center, called EdSoup, whose only purpose, in...

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Scam: Websites Promising Jobs and Medicaid Are Instead Bait for For-Profit College Telemarketers

(5) Comments | Posted November 12, 2014 | 1:28 PM

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A network of U.S. marketing companies run glossy websites promising jobs, health benefits, food stamps, and heating assistance -- sites with names like or But according to former employees of a company connected to these operations, the...

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Entitled For-Profit Colleges File Meritless Suit to Block Obama Rule

(1) Comments | Posted November 7, 2014 | 4:33 PM


On Thursday, November 6, the national trade association of for-profit colleges, APSCU, sued the Obama administration in federal court in Washington, D.C., to strike down the new 2014 "gainful employment" rule. The complaint repeats many of the claims from APSCU's suit...

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New Gainful Employment Rule Is Weak, but Predatory For-profit Colleges Remain on the Ropes

(1) Comments | Posted October 30, 2014 | 1:01 AM

empty classroom

The Obama administration is releasing its "gainful employment" rule, aimed at curbing abuses by federally-funded career colleges, at 7 am Thursday.  I can't fully evaluate the rule without seeing its details. But I have obtained a press...

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2014 Campaign Shows Growing Public Disdain for Predatory For-Profit Colleges

(2) Comments | Posted October 27, 2014 | 1:53 PM


In the 2o12 election campaign, when a reporter asked GOP candidate Mitt Romney what he planned to do about higher education and college affordability, Romney praised for-profit colleges, and particularly one school, Florida's Full Sail University, for its ability to "hold down the cost of...

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As For-Profit Colleges Fight for Their Right to Abuse Students, It's Obama's Time to Decide

(19) Comments | Posted October 22, 2014 | 6:48 PM


The Obama administration is scheduled to issue, within the next few weeks, a regulation called the gainful employment rule, aimed at cutting off federal student aid to college-level career training programs that consistently leave their students drowning in debt. Lobbyists for...

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Photos: Lavish Lifestyle of Miami For-Profit College CEO Indicted Today For Stealing From Taxpayers

(0) Comments | Posted October 2, 2014 | 7:05 PM



A federal grand jury has indicted the former owner-CEO and three other ex-staff of Miami-based FastTrain College, a for-profit school that had ties to Florida Members...

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VIDEO: With Senator Warren Watching, Suze Orman Denies, Admits, Rationalizes Teaching at University of Phoenix

(209) Comments | Posted September 17, 2014 | 9:41 PM


At an event in Washington DC this morning, speaking alongside Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), financial guru Suze Orman at first seemed to deny what is a documented fact: that she teaches a personal finance course at the nation's biggest for-profit college, the University...

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Consumer Protector Cordray: Corinthian Colleges Deceived and Bullied Students

(3) Comments | Posted September 16, 2014 | 5:13 PM


For a couple of years now, I've argued that Corinthian Colleges might be the worst predator of all the big for-profit college companies, a remorseless giant engaged in endless abuses of students who needed career help, not more problems. But now that...

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Bill Maher, John Oliver Slam Predatory For-Profit Colleges

(1) Comments | Posted September 15, 2014 | 9:10 AM

In a single week, two of America's best comedic truth-tellers -- John Oliver and Bill Maher -- hit hard against the predatory for-profit colleges that rip off taxpayers and ruin students' lives.

On his HBO show Last Week Tonight, Oliver attacked these profit-making colleges for their sky-high prices, meager spending on instruction, and deceptive and coercive recruiting tactics, including the enrollment of soldiers who had brain injuries and couldn't even name the courses they'd signed up for. Oliver added, "I will say this for for-profit colleges: They've just given us all a first-class education in the depths of human depravity." Oliver noted that of the 115 people enrolled in one ITT Tech engineering program in 2012, only 27 graduated, and just 13 found work in the field. "Everyone else would have genuinely been better off studying engineering at Hogwarts, because at least that way they'd have a fucking owl to show for it," he said.

Oliver noted that the for-profit college's shameless trade association, APSCU, had waged a successful campaign against the Obama Administration's rule ("gainful employment") to hold the industry accountable, in part by generating letters that the senders didn't even bother to read and fill in the blanks -- "I am a career college student at [INSTITUTION] studying [PROGRAM]. [INSTITUTION] is providing me with the education and training necessary to obtain the job I've always wanted as a [CAREER]."  In response, Oliver offered his own letter, which you can now send to APSCU:

To Whom It May Concern:
I am [NAME HERE], a human being with [DESCRIBE AT LEAST SOME LEVEL OF SENSE] who is sick of your [SYNONYM FOR BULLSHIT].
Whatever the benefits of for-profit schools, your trade group is protecting the worst actors, and [ADDITIONAL INSULTS]. [IDEAS FOR PLACES TO CRAM THIS LETTER ONCE ROLLED UP]. [PROPOSALS FOR HUMAN WASTE PRODUCTS TO BE EATEN].
Thank you for your time,

Five days later, on his HBO show, Real Time, live from Washington DC, Maher announced that Rep. John Kline (R-MN) was  the "winning loser" of Maher's "Flip a District" contest, aimed at defeating a "sellout" incumbent.  Maher said the issue that Kline, the chair of the House education committee, "may be the worst on" is student debt. Kline, Maher said, "has done more to keep twenty-somethings in their parents' basements than anyone else alive." He called Kline "the champion of for-profit colleges, which they used to call diploma mills, but that's back when you at least got a diploma." Maher charged that "at the University of Phoenix, Kline's biggest donor, 88 percent do not graduate -- that's a worse rate than celebrity rehab." As Jerry Seinfeld grinned and GOP politician / lobbyist Haley Barbour sat stone-faced, Maher said Kline is "bought and paid for" by the for-profit college industry -- and "this is the problem with Washington."

If you want to know more about how the for-profit college industry abuses students and corrupts Washington, boy, do I have that material for you: here and here.

Now, there are entertainers who defend and promote the for-profit college industry -- from Debbie Gibson to Rob Schneider, Suze Orman to Lanny Davis. But all of them have been paid to do so.  Maher and Oliver are only interested in finding targets whose misdeeds are worthy of our outrage. There are some fine for-profit colleges out there, but the predatory companies that dominate the industry surely are worthy of public outrage -- and public demand that these institutions be held accountable.

This article also appears on Republic...

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