Wednesday, August 31, 2011

From the Best to the Worst: For-Profits Are An Ivy-League Created Scam

Interesting. If you take a look at most of the top folks at Kaplan - their "leadership" squad - almost all of them went to Ivy Leagues or elite schools. I know it's a naive question, but I went to those types of schools, and how is it I have a sense of ethics? Why is it I learned that education is a public good, and they apparently didn't?

Moreover, if the top-notch people at Kaplan have "real" degrees, then what does that say about their "product?" I am loath to use that term, but that's what these folks have done. They've turned education into a consumer product, which is the primary reason why these schools are such scams. (The non-profits have done the same thing, i.e., incorporated language from the market to describe students and so forth).

If these folks truly believed in offering opportunities to lower-income Americans, their company would not be driven by enrollments numbers and profits. (Jesus, how depressing is that?!? It's a company. It's not a school). It screams hypocrisy. That is not to say that people who work and teach in these schools are not doing a good job, and trying to help their students. But the overall structure is corrupt, and it leads people into debt that can't be discharge in bankruptcy, and oftentimes follows them to the grave. There is a high number of them who drop out, too. Those who do finish, are oftentimes humiliated in job interviews when they learn that potential employers look down their noses at their diplomas. Again, that is not to suggest that folks who go to these schools aren't smart, capable, and educated. There is, however, no doubt that their degrees have a stigma attached to them, and many of them find it difficult to find full-time work.

Here's a snapshot of these folks at Kaplan who come from elite schools (this is just a sampling. For the full list of their "leadership" go here):

Andrew S. Rosen 
Position: Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Education: A.B. Duke University; J.D. Yale University

Allison Rutledge-Parisi
Position: Chief Administrative Officer
Education: Kaplan Website states, "She is a graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School, where she was named a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar."

Darrell Splithoff
Position: Executive Vice President, Strategy and Innovation
Education: A.B. and M.M. from Northwestern University 

Bror Saxberg
Position: Chief Learning Officer
Education: Site states, "Saxberg holds a B.A. in Mathematics and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Washington. As a Rhodes Scholar, he received an M.A. in Mathematics from Oxford University. He also received a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from M.I.T. and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School."

Melissa Mack
Position: Senior Vice President, Marketing, Kaplan, Inc.
Chairman, Kaplan Educational Foundation
Education: A.B. Brown University

Related Links
"Assessing the Integrity of Individuals and Institutions Connected to Higher Education," AEM (Aug. 30, 2011)

"Good Riddance to ‘For Profit Colleges,'" Gawker (Aug. 23, 2011)

"Here's something to celebrate! For-profit enrollment plunges!," AEM (Aug. 18, 2011)

"UPDATE: Exclusive Interview - Whistleblower David Goodstein Discusses Victory over Kaplan University" AEM (July 25, 2011)

"UPDATE: BREAKING! Whistleblower David Goodstein Slams Kaplan and Wins!," AEM (July 22, 2011)


Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like some of these people are "over qualified" for a test-prep co.

I too went to an Ivy and graduated w/ an MA. I was so proud to even be accepted as my beginnings are humble. I really believed that this would really distinguish me from other job seekers.

Maybe it has. It only took me 2.5 years after receiving my MA in 2008 to find a FT job that is not related to my degree, that I had to move cross-country for, AND that pays me less than I was making with a Bachelors. Not to mention the probably obvious crushing private student loan debt that was presented to me as have the same flexibility as federal student loans...

Aaahhh to be basking is such elitist privilege. Don't y'all wish you were me?

Cryn Johannsen said...

@Anonymous 5:56 PM - exactly! You really made me laugh.

Anonymous said...

As long as big taxpayer backed money is to be made, this system, as we know it, will continue, and profit.

Bankruptcy would throw a big wrench into the works, and so that is why bankruptcy was done away with.

And the ordinary taxpayer hasn't a clue as to what is really going on.

I am repeating myself, but lately I think that too much Gov't involvement in Higher Ed has led to some great abuses, with both public and private pigs feeding at the taxpayer trough. (spelling)

Nando said...

Andrew S. Rosen earned his Bachelor's degree from Duke, and has a law degree from Yale. Yet, he cannot figure out that his hair looks awful.

Listen up, Andrew. You are bald. Combing your hair forward, like a six year old, is futile. YOU have a gaping hole in the middle of your "hairline." Take your ass down to the local store, and purchase some hair clippers. Go in the bathroom, and buzz the last remnants of your hair.

Go bald with dignity, Ass.

Anonymous said...

I think you have "ethics" because you study history.

Cryn Johannsen said...

@Anonymous 11:46 PM - you might be right. But Ms. Mack has an A.B. from Brown. Even if she took all business-y classes, she had to have wound up in some sort of ethic-y class! Or maybe not. Undergrads at Brown have no imposed curriculum, i.e., they can make up their own major and take pretty much whatever classes that strike their fancy.

I do not mean to say that in a nasty way. I taught at Brown, and found the undergraduate population to be amazing.

Perhaps Ms. Mack lost her way after graduation? Not sure . . .

(And don't get me started on President Ruth Simmons).

One Who Survived said...

Arguably ALL universities are "for profit" these days, their main "market" being corporate-state (Mussolini's definition of Fascism) sources of "research" funding.

Are you familiar with the work(s) of Wendell Berry? 70-something Kentuckian farmer and poet, politically unclubbable except perhaps as an agrarian-populist reactionary.

Some choice exerpts from one of his commencement addresses:

"And yet by all this fuss we are promoting a debased commodity paid for by the people, sanctioned by the government, for the benefit of the corporations. For the most part, its purpose is now defined by the great and the would-be-great “research universities.” These gigantic institutions, increasingly formed upon the “industrial model,” no longer make even the pretense of preparing their students for responsible membership in a family, a community, or a polity. They have repudiated their old obligation to pass on to students at least something of their cultural inheritance....Now, according to those institutions of the “cutting edge,” the purpose of education is unabashedly utilitarian. Their interest is almost exclusively centered in the technical courses called, with typical ostentation of corporate jargon, STEM: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The American civilization so ardently promoted by these institutions is to be a civilization entirety determined by technology, and not encumbered by any thought of what is good or worthy or neighborly or humane....You will be told also – ignoring our permanent dependence on food, clothing, and shelter – that you live in a “knowledge-based economy,” which in fact is deeply prejudiced against all knowledge that does not produce the quickest possible return on investment...."

There's a lot to be said for the good kinds of reactionaries. In the final verse of the Nazi anthem, the Horst Wessel Lied, the enemies of the Nazi revolution are the "Red Front and Reactionaries". And weren't the French Resistance reactionaries? "Reaction" against the progress of evil is another kind of revolution.

One Who Survived said...

Further re "research" funding:

I assume Cryn is dreadfully familiar with the current (beginning circa 1950s, metastasised during the 1980s-90s) convention of American universities regarding their faculty members' abilities to get "research" grants (almost always from corporate/state sources) as the primary criterion of a faculty member's "productivity".

(I'm calling them "faculty" instead of "teachers" precisely because the role of teaching has become marginalised in the "higher education" cosmopole. I'm aware that many university teachers - such as Cryn evidently used to be, may I assume you were an adjunct? - remain dedicated principally to teaching, but the tragedy is that such REAL teachers have become marginalised.)

Well, back to my main point about confusing "research grants" with "productivity"..., persons with common sense, the likes of, say, Orwell (and anyone who has studied Aristotle will know this is NOT a "straw man" argument!) - as I was saying, common sense persons who use the English language in its common-sense meanings, will understand that ASKING FOR GRANTS is the OPPPOSITE of PRODUCTION!

In other words: What the f---? So if a scholar/researcher can produce serious research WITHOUT any grants from the state and/or the corporations who own the state, then she's LESS "productive" than those whose "production" is to persuade others to give her money?

What those faculty who procure "research" grants actually "produce" - at least as per their ability to get grants - is in fact consumption. The production of consumption. To call the procurement of "research" grants, "production", is the penultimate apogee of Orwellian double-speak. "Black is White, and persuading others to give you money BEFORE you produce anything, is "production"!

And then to rub salt into the wounds, those scholars who do NOT attract research grants are called "NON-productive" REGARDLESS of whatever SCHOLARSHIP they can produce on their "shredded shoestring" budgets!

See what I mean? It reminds me of a joke circulating in Russia when I was there in Yeltsin's time:

Two Novorusskies ("New Russians", ie "Nouveau Riche") met, and one admired the other's necktie. He asked his fellow Novorusskie, "How much did you pay for that tie?" Answer, "One thousand rubles." Then the other Novorusskie said, "Oh, you FOOL! I know where you could buy the SAME tie for TEN thousand rubles!"

Such are the values of American (and many other Western) universities today; what matters is NOT the actual result, but rather to pay as much money for it as possible. Consequently, even "research" has been commodified into hyper-abstraction...while education has become de-commodified down to the level of debt-peonage, aka slavery.

And so the paradox of today's America is that in contrast to the 1800s when it was illegal to teach slaves how to read, today education is equated with slavery. Ah, what a diabolically brilliant way to maintain extreme class differences resembling those of the most benighted nations, just equate teaching/education with degraded servitude and THEN EDUCATION IS NO LONGER A MEANS OF SOCIAL MOBILITY!

It's a stroke of diabolical genius, unimagined by any prior slave-owning society! In fact it's CONTRARY to all prior slaveowning societies! To equate education with slavery! It's diabolically ingenius!

warwick555 said...

Of course Ivy league graduates (and I am one, by the way) helped to found these schools. How else are they going to pay back their student loans? The financial backers stay in the background. I wouldn't be surprised if some of them have fraud convictions. At some point, when real thorough investigations are made, real bad hats are going to emerge. This is slime dog stuff, period, no matter how you dress it up.

Anonymous said...

Could they be the people Yeats had in mind when he wrote, "The best lack all conviction"?