May 28, 2016
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A Dubious Benefit: Big Employers Steer Workers to Troubled For-Profit Colleges

American Airlines tells its workers that one of the employee benefits for which they are eligible is “career development training,” and an internal employee benefits web page lists American’s “learning partners and other sources for tuition discounts, waived enrollment fees and education grants to help you further develop your professional skills.” The schools listed by the company as providing benefits for its thousands of employees — managers, pilots, flight attendants, reservations agents, and others — are for-profit colleges DeVry, the University of Phoenix,

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May 27, 2016
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New Law Firm Monitor for Zenith: Like the Old One, It Represented Corinthian

 

The U.S. Department of Education announced today it has “accepted” the law firm Squire Patton Boggs as the new “independent monitor” for Zenith Education Group. Zenith is a division of the non-profit debt collection company ECMC, which, with Department approval, last year took over many Everest College and WyoTech campuses of the now-defunct, notoriously predatory for-profit Corinthian Colleges.

The Department told the Associated Press today that it picked the firm from among seven candidates proposed by Zenith.

A partner at the firm, Clark Kent Ervin, is slated, according to the Department, to …

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May 25, 2016
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Veterans Groups Oppose Manchin Amendment Giving For-Profit Colleges Unfettered Access to Military Bases

Just as America’s veterans organization are coming together to demand better government protection against deceptive and abusive practices by for-profit colleges, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) seems to want to move in the opposite direction, pushing an amendment that would require the Pentagon to allow any college approved for military tuition benefits to have unrestricted access to recruit on military bases.  Veterans and military groups, as well as other Senators, are now working to stop this Manchin amendment.

Senator Manchin’s amendment might please, among others, a for-profit college headquartered in his home state, American Public University System (APUS), which runs the …

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May 19, 2016
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University of Phoenix Won’t Force Students to Arbitrate Claims; Scope Unclear

The University of Phoenix just announced that it will no longer require students to agree when enrolling to give up their rights to pursue in court any disputes with the school. Many for-profit colleges have used such fine-print clauses to force any complaint into secret arbitration proceedings that tend to be stacked against students and keep school abuses from coming to light.

The Department of Education is currently considering issuing new regulations that would prohibit or limit the ability of colleges receiving federal aid from imposing such mandatory arbitration clauses. (I am working with our coalition of pro-student …

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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 6, 2016
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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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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
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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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