I was in northeast Portland over the weekend and decided to stop in at a brewery that Yelp users said not only had good beer but "it's a nonprofit too!" I assumed they just misinterpreted the brewpub's joke about its inadequate revenue. But no.
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.
U.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 blocked reforms to hold the industry accountable.
For those of you who dream of being future doctors, lawyers, financial wizards, architects, or English professors (if there are any of those anymore), you'll still have to pay exorbitantly for years of graduate school or professional training, which means ever more debt to come.
I hope TheDream.US fund and other efforts to invest in the Dreamers do keep growing. But I also hope the leaders of TheDream.US quickly decide that it is being tarnished by including as a participant a college that represents a blatant, unacceptable conflict of interest.
As a front group for the worst actors in higher education, APSCU has no credibility. It does continue to have something bigger: The billions in taxpayer dollars that Washington keeps funneling to predatory colleges. Corinthian's reign is over, but many almost-as-bad companies remain in operation.
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 debt.
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.
Vin Weber is much more than a Bush campaign advisor. He's a lobbyist who has pressed his former colleagues in Congress on behalf of clients like AT&T, the pharmaceutical trade association PHRMA, student loan giant Sallie Mae, and student debt collection companies Navient and ECMC.
The for-profit behemoth Corinthian Colleges is experiencing a spectacular fall. A $30 million fine by the Department of Education for falsifying placement data, numerous on-going state probes, a massive sell-off of schools and an abrupt bankruptcy filing that left some 16,000 students in the lurch.
How can we protect against school owners' ability to befriend, cajole, bully and buy the regulators and elected officials who are supposed to be holding them accountable for their use of taxpayer funds? That's the real puzzle.
Sadly, the good work that his foundation does is eviscerated by what he does on a much larger scale in New York state politics, national politics, and throughout the world in order to continue to line his coffers.
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 without apparent shame, is likely near its end.
What might the future of higher education look like? This new world of higher education will have fewer institutions serving larger numbers of students. The focus, however, will not be on the institutions themselves but what happens (or does not happen) in the classroom.
Despite some recent bad press, for-profit education does create a path to education for many Americans. If you take advantage of it, understanding your student loan options is critical.
For-profit colleges are bad investment for students and for our society. However, there is a reason that they exist and have created a seismic shift in higher education.