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Over Easy: Predatory Education

These satirical robotic-voice videos portray the God-awful truth of prolonged unemployment, even for people with graduate degrees. It wasn’t always like this; a good education used to mean security, a job. We could do better than our parents, if only we worked hard and studied harder. A CNN short clip featuring a law grad with good credentials, who can only find work at a coffee shop shows the reality of today’s free-for-all market.

Given the dismal employment market, where graduates essentially beg to work as slaves, the atmosphere is perfect for predatory marketing and relentless criminal enterprise of the shameless for-profit schools.

In an article titled Neoliberalism and the For-Profit, Predatory Educational Industry: You Can’t Regulate a Criminal Enterprise, Danny Weil explains that “There are literally thousands of these schools in existence and most are online schools with office fronts that act as administration centers for the whole for-profit syndicate.” Dr. Weil names a few for-profit and heavily traded such schools: DeVry, ITT Educational Services, and others.

One such school, a start-up law school, was the reason my husband (Mason aka Fred) and I moved to Paducah, KY, in 2006. He was offered a job, and since he loves to teach, he accepted, and we relocated. Moving to Kentucky from the Pacific Northwest was like moving to a different country. Having Washington plates is probable cause for arrest here, but aside from that, he enjoyed his job, and we loved the lush beauty and friendly people in Paducah. I had never lived in a river town.

However, something was amiss with Fred’s new job. Call it intuition or whatever, but shortly after he began his work, I woke him up at 2 AM, and said, simply, “Your boss is a con man.” Fred told me I was crazy. (I cleaned that up because it is Over Easy) I said, “You watch.” To fast forward, I was right, and he blew the whistle, refusing to mislead or lie to students. Things went Orwellian for us after that, to massively understate.

I am not sure if we were experiencing the beginning of a new wave of shameless abuse of a vulnerable population (in this case, students), but almost all of the lawsuits I have read about these for-profit-gone-awry schools say the same thing, give or take, more or less, from the class actions involving screwed students from any one of these predatory schools. The irony is, were it not for raw greed, many of these schools would succeed and do well.

This one happens to be a class action from a different school in the area, Daymar College note: You must type “Daymar” into the search box:

According to Students, Daymar aggressively recruits students, and induces them to

enroll in and attend Daymar by making material, false, and misleading
representations, including promising full transferability of Daymar credits to other
institutions of higher learning, and jobs upon graduation. The Students now assert
that very few Daymar credits are actually transferrable, and that very few students
obtain any sort of job in their field of study after graduation.

An arbitration expert in this case explained that he had never seen a case where students were required to pay, up front, the entire cost of arbitration, which could amount to many thousands of dollars. In other words, the students have no recourse.

So, what does this look like in reality? I can tell you, from what I observed at the predatory school we had the misfortune of becoming involved with here. Deans were skimming the portion of student loan money that was allocated for living expenses. Even the loan company, Student Loan XPress, has been investigated for extensive loan corruption. Students were required to purchase books from one vendor at inflated prices, a vendor where one of the Deans was the sales rep. Students were receiving eviction notices because they could not meet their rent payments. Deans changed grades without telling professors and engaged in a (I swear to God) grades-for-sex scheme. Bank fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, admitting students who never should have been admitted, abusing faculty, and in general, what is called Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO). Just when things heat up enough, the whole group of cons, and you can never, ever tell who is the good guy and who is not, declare bankruptcy, leave town, stiffing the utility companies on their way out, and do the very same thing elsewhere.

As I see it, predatory for-profit education is a modified form of that corruption we saw before the housing boom fell, where white collar criminals posing as escrow companies, only without a physical address, valid phone number or any employees but with several off-shore bank accounts, stole people’s entire life savings, and the ensuing RICO litigation, after people realized that every penny they had saved since they were sixteen was gone, was so expensive, massive, time-consuming and complicated, that many people simply gave up, gathered what was left of their ruined lives and moved on.

The litany of horror from the school where my husband taught is here. While some students were able to complete their legal education elsewhere, there were no consequences whatsoever for the people who operated what amounts to a Ponzi scheme, and this is not an isolated situation at all.

Also, have you ever been telephoned by one of these predatory schools? I have. I remember saying, “Look. We are not communicating. I don’t have any money. Period. I have told you, over and over, never to call me again.”

You may also be interested in knowing that you have options, if you are poor, but wish to take classes. Many excellent schools, such as MIT, offer online courses free of charge. (MIT Open Course Ware)

An extra-curricular exercise, that cost $130,000

List of For Profit Colleges and Universities

Aided by Fox News, For-Profit Colleges Use Shameless Propaganda to Mask Shameful Conduct

Largest for-profit U.S. university expects to be put on probation by accreditor

PS: Standardized testing is yet another scam, I think. Do you agree?

Also, KrisAin is a hard act to follow! He has presented an excellent series on the topic of guns and gun control. Like Kris, I have a posting word ‘speed limit,’ which I have exceeded, so I apologize for that!

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