May 16, 2016

Stuff For-Profit College Executives Say

The market analysis division of Credit Suisse held a two-day conference in March addressing for-profit education, and many for-profit college industry executives and consultants attended the meeting, held in Boston. Credit Suisse analyst and long-time for-profit college booster Trace Urdan published a revealing write-up of the session on March 21. The press of other business, plus, of course, respect for Credit Suisse paid subscribers, has kept me from describing the report until now, but it’s a fascinating document for those who want to know what for-profit college executives talk about when they talk about for-profit colleges, behind closed doors.

Some highlights:

— DeVry University management, …Continue Reading »

May 13, 2016

Bush EPA Head Says Obama Chemical Safety Plan Is Too Weak

Former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman (R), who headed the EPA under President George W. Bush, has written to President Obama’s EPA head, Gina McCarthy, to argue that the EPA’s proposed regulation to reduce the risks of explosions at U.S. chemical plants is too weak.  Whitman writes that her purpose is “to urge the EPA to strengthen” its rule “to increase the safety of the American people,” particularly by requiring numerous high-risk chemical facilities to move to inherently safer technologies (IST).

A chemical plant disaster could result from accident, natural disaster, or deliberate attack.  The EPA has identified 466 chemical facilities …

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May 6, 2016

New Head of Zuckerberg Education Charity Sits on Board Governing Troubled For-Profit College

In an announcement that received wide media coverage, James H. Shelton this week was named the first head of the education component of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a new corporation, dedicated to charitable ventures, that is funded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan.  According to Zuckerberg’s announcement of Shelton’s appointment, “Jim will bring all of his own experience in improving personalized learning and helping underserved communities.”

It was unclear whether that description was meant to include Shelton’s current service on the corporate board of directors that oversees troubled for-profit …

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May 2, 2016
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Ellen DeGeneres Shills For For-Profit College Facing Law Enforcement Probes

Today on her television show, in honor of the upcoming Mother’s Day, Ellen DeGeneres gave a $25,000 college scholarship to Courtney, an Oklahoma stay-at-home mom who wants to be an ultrasound technician.  That’s fantastic.

Except that the scholarship is to attend the for-profit University of Phoenix, which even with a $25,000 scholarship could turn out to be a bad deal for Courtney.  The University of Phoenix is currently the subject of investigations by multiple federal and state law enforcement agencies. And Department of Education data has shown that the University of Phoenix’s graduation rate for first-time, full-time …

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May 2, 2016

Education Dept., Getting Fed Up, Links For-Profit College To “Grifters”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education took the rare step of cutting off federal student aid to two for-profit college chains, each accused of deceiving the Department and their own students. Now the Department has denied an appeal by one of the schools, Computer Systems Institute (CSI!), and done so with a bit more, shall we say, emphasis than usual. Just for example, the Department uses a term not often applied in higher education in referring to two individuals whom CSI claimed were major employers of its students; the Department calls them “grifters.”

It’s one more sign that …

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April 29, 2016

FTC Takes Action Against Florida For-Profit College Marketer

The Federal Trade Commission announced yesterday its first settlement with an education lead generation company, Orlando-based Expand, Inc., and its owner, Ayman “Alec” El-Difrawi, for alleged deceptive practices. The FTC contends that Expand, which operates under the names Gigats, EducationMatch and SoftRock, has been claiming to visitors to its websites that it is “pre-screening” job applicants, when in fact it is gathering personal information for other purposes, including selling it to for-profit colleges that are seeking new students.

Expand’s websites aggregated some job listings from the Internet, but, according to the FTC, many were stale or had no official connection to Expand, and Expand …

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April 28, 2016
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Case Builds Against For-Profit Colleges Denying Students Legal Rights

In recent months, leading Members of Congress, state attorneys general, and non-profit groups have called on the Department of Education to stop colleges that receive federal student aid from forcing students to resolve disputes with their schools in secret arbitration proceedings. (I’ve been active in this advocacy effort.)  After decades of neglecting this issue, the Department of Education appears ready to take steps to protect the right of students to bring their grievances to court.

But the Department has wavered between approaches: fully banning mandatory arbitration clauses or, instead, issuing only a limited ban.

Nothing that advocates have …

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April 19, 2016

Troubled For-Profit Colleges ‘Eager to Assist’-Enroll-Students of Shut-Down School

The headline of a Kansas City Star article posted today reads, “Some private for-profit schools come to the aid of former Wright Career College students; Vatterott Educational Centers, Brown Mackie College and National American University offer assistance.”

The article includes this passage:

One of the schools reaching out to Wright students is St. Louis-based Vatterott Educational Centers. It said it will consider credit transfers for former Wright students in five markets — the Kansas City area, Wichita, Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Omaha.

“We are saddened to see the impact of Wright Career College’s closure on its students,” Rene Crosswhite, Vatterott’s chief …

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