Roundhouse to the For-profit Model of Exploitation, Extermination, Exiting of Democracy
This time around, I will start off School Yard Fights with the next call to action around for-profit colleges – stopping tax dollars going there, divestment campaigns, ending the rot at the top exploiting everyone else syndrome the University of Phoenix model has infected our public sector with, too.
The half a million bodies reference is loose, certainly low balling. U of P counts what, 360,000 students? How many faculty — exploited part-timers? And the middle managers of muck? What about the families of those students, those part-time faculty, middle manager muckers?
Okay, then, way more than a million people. Millions if you count the US taxpayer putting money into the for-profit kitty for for-greed CEOs and their groveling gadfly supporters. Just a quick update call to action below.
Then, I will “tag” on sort of a School Yard Fights roundup of education news – the bruised, abused, good, bad, and ugly of our society’s whipping boy and girl. Education. From pre-K, to public 1st through 12th, and especially the community colleges and universities, most assuredly the public ones. Plenty of ire by the dumbest countrymen/women in the world thrown at those private non-profit ones. Maybe March Madness gave education a bit of a break, but not really.
Does anyone read David Zirin, sports writer and book author, self-described proletariat, socialist, working on the cultural, political, educational, and legal spin around sports, pro or amateur?
We’ll get to Zirin on Sports below. And the headline news. An article in Radical Teacher, the new edition.
Again, bringing you all up to speed on University of Phoenix, or the for-profit scandals, taken from Introduction: College for Dollars? by Richard Ohmann:
- (Daniel Golden, “Your Taxes Support For-Profits as They Buy Colleges,” Bloomberg.com, March 4, 2010). [When a for-profit takes over the accreditation of a college it acquires, it represents that it will preserve the mission of the college.]
- Education Management Corp’s (EDMC) art schools costs on average about $50,000 (“With Goldman’s Foray Into Higher Education, a Predatory Pursuit of Students and Revenues,” huffingtonpost.com, Oct. 14, 2011). EDMC, which owns a bouquet of around 70 “colleges,” gets 70% of its income from us taxpayers.
- tuition does not even guarantee that students will do any college-level work; they can be stuck in remedial courses until they give up. Most of their tuition money comes from federal and other loans. A student must repay the government even if he or she never completes a degree or certificate program—or completes it but never gets the kind of job the original sales pitch held up as a likely reward for college study.
- Then there is labor. Ninety-five percent of University of Phoenix instructors are part-timers. The credentials required of for-profit teachers are minimal; pay is low. Benefits are rare, tenure almost unknown. Precarity is the name of the game. There is no academic freedom. Faculty members are under constant pressure from bosses to meet quotas of various kinds
- (Christopher R. Beha, “Leveling the Field; What I Learned From For-Profit Education,” Harper’s, Oct., 2011).
- (Hollister K. Petraeus, “For-Profit Colleges, Vulnerable G.I.’s,” New York Times,Sept. 21, 2011).
- Clarkson University has established scholarships for freshmen entrepreneurs—free tuition, but Clarkson gets a percentage of any profits the start-up companies may later achieve.
- Washington State has created an Opportunity Scholarship Program, funded partly by the State and partly by corporate donors; Boeing and Microsoft kick-started it with $25million each. The board that governs the program, “composed of private sector representatives,” will determine specific policies, including which fields will have the most scholarship students sent their way: health care, manufacturing, science, mathematics, and technology, for instance. Educational and political leaders in the state praised the program, with its “industry leadership.” The president of Boeing said, “We need creative solutions to ensure businesses across the state have a pipeline of talent to remain competitive in a global economy” (“Boeing and Microsoft Pledge $50 Million to New Scholarship Fund,” Microsoft News Center, June 6, 2011).
When Google & University of Phoenix Feed —
Pulverizing the Bones of Students with Loans and a Ride to Nowhere Work-wise
Dear Paul, Socially Concerned Working Class Adjuncts, et al. —
I believe that with just a few concerned working class people, we can contribute greatly to dismantling Apollo Group (the parent company of University of Phoenix). And by doing that, we can be on the road to resisting and beating back predatory for-profit education at all levels.
If the people want public education to continue, working class people (including the few adjuncts who realize they are working class) need to get on the offensive.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Those who choose to lead must provide a clear and compelling argument for this project. Shooting Down the Phoenix has to be clear, concise, and compelling enough to educate, agitate, and organize enough people to take the effort.
We have to show, in detail, how the University of Phoenix model is destroying education in America, and that the People do have the power (with solidarity) to do something about it. The evidence is overwhelming about how the University of Phoenix has been exploiting US taxpayers, veterans, the unemployed and underemployed, people, of color, and the disabled, not to mention an army of adjuncts.
Phoenix has also been a model for public education (both higher education and K-12 education) to follow; it is the epitome of the educational business model. The Phoenix model is to maximize profits by taking government funds, targeting vulnerable populations, and employing workers at the lowest wage necessary.
The evidence is overwhelming, if you dig deep.
That said, Phoenix is a formidable foe. It gets tens of billions of dollars from the US government. It spends about $400 million on advertising (nearly a half-million dollars a day on Internet advertising), and it donates millions of dollars to Republicans and Democrats at the federal and state level, including politicians in power positions. It also donates money and scholarships to organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs to mask their true identity.
But Phoenix is extremely vulnerable. Its stock has declined 60% over the last two years. And it faces class action lawsuits from stockholders and former employees. If states, public employee retirement funds, and teacher retirement funds divest, it will be a symbolic victory that we can use to further the cause.
If teachers and public employees refuse to be in solidarity (and frankly, most will not be willing), then it must be public school students who must lead. Those young working class people have the most to lose.
Here’s more information:
It seems that as the value of a for-profit degree declines, and their loan default rates remain high, the four companies’ enrollment numbers have suffered.
|Company||Past Year’s Change in Enrollment||Current Enrollment|
|University of Phoenix||(15%)||356,900|
|ITT Technical Institute||(14%)||73,255|
Source: Most recent 10-Ks; ITT Technical’s (ESI) last 10-K was in 2011.
|Company||Ad Rank, Jan. 14, 2013||Ad Rank, Dec. 4, 2012||Daily Ad Spend, Jan. 14, 2013||Daily Ad Spend, Dec. 4, 2012|
|University of Phoenix||1||1||$494,600||$380,000|
|DeVry (NYSE: DV )||7||7||$138,600||$98,100|
|ITT Technical Institute (NYSE:ESI )||13||17||$110,100||$64,500|
|Washington Post‘s (NYSE:WPO ) Kaplan||16||14||$94,000||$69,500|
Source: Spyfu. Ad spend equates to the amount a company can spend per day, but it can be less depending on how many people actually click on the ads.
My answer would be because Apollo Group and/or major stockholders are major advertisers (which is the strongest most enduring mode of censorship in US mainstream media)
Simple, short, sweet, from Dahn, my fellow adjunct, from New Jersey, fed up and he’s not going to take this anymore. It’s the Maggie the Milk Snatcher Thatcher alive and well in for-profit land. And, the continual cutting out of the spleen and “spare” kidney in our unrealized democratic majority, the 70 percent holding community, culture, education, governing, and representational and collective will together. Feeble attempts against the Drones of the Dharmas of Capital.
These are reposted and some originally posted on Alternet.org. It’s absolutely all over the place with the craziness of our attacks on higher ed, teachers, and students. Criminal Enterprise System headed up by Obama, laughed at by Republisplats, and lubricated by the lobbyists and pols in their back pockets.
- Student Loan Interest Rates Scheduled to Double July 1
Rates may be increasing from 3.4 to 6.8 percent… unless Congress decides to cancel the hike.
The average student is now grappling with more than $27,000 in debt, and the national student debt has reached $1 trillion. Meanwhile, the federal government is making a profit on these interest rates, according to a brief by student advocacy groups:
The brief, citing a February report from the Congressional Budget Office, said the federal government makes 36 cents in profit on every student-loan dollar it puts out, and estimates that over all, student loans will bring in $34 billion next year.
“Higher education loans are meant to subsidize the cost of higher education, not profit from them, especially at a time when students are facing record debt,” said Ethan Senack, the higher education advocate at the United States Public Interest Research Group, which is issuing the brief with the United States Student Association and Young Invincibles, an organization for people 18 to 34.
According to the C.B.O. report, the government will get 12.5 cents in revenue next year for every dollar lent through subsidized Staffords, 33.3 cents per dollar in unsubsidized Staffords, 54.8 cents on each dollar of graduate school loans, and 49 cents per dollar of parent loans, for a total of $34 billion a year.
Borrowers of subsidized Stafford loans make up more than a third of those using federal student aid. More than two-thirds of those borrowers are from families with an annual income under $50,000.
- Melissa Harris Perry Slams Lawmakers Who Want to Tie Welfare Benefits to Student Grades
Parents who receive TANF benefits would see their payments reduced by 30 percent if their children perform poorly in school.
Tennessee lawmakers have proposed an absurd bill that would punish parents who receive welfare benefits if their children perform poorly in school.
Republican State Sen. Stacey Campfield and Republican State Rep. Vance Dennis introduced legislation in late March that would reduce payments to parents who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families by 30 percent if their children do not make “satisfactory progress” in school.
- Public Schools, Billionaire Agendas: The Threat of the ‘Parent Revolution’ Campaign
The “parent-trigger” movement is being heavily financed by the conservative Walton Family Foundation, one of the nation’s largest anti-union organizations.
At first glance, it is one of the nation’s hottest new education-reform movements, a seemingly populist crusade to empower poor parents and fix failing public schools. But a closer examination reveals that the “parent-trigger” movement is being heavily financed by the conservative Walton Family Foundation, one of the nation’s largest and most strident anti-union organizations, a Frying Pan News investigation has shown.
- High School Teacher In Trouble For Using the Word ‘Vagina’ in Biology Class
Tim McDaniel’s students defend him for being open about issues like climate change and STDs.
High school science teacher Tim McDaniel is being investigated by Idaho’s professional standards commission because he allegedly used the word “vagina” while teaching a 10th grade biology lesson on reproduction and anatomy.
According to a report from Idaho’s Magic Valley News, four parents complained to school officials after learning that McDaniel explained the biology of an orgasm and used the word “vagina” during a lesson on human reproduction in his sophomore science class.
- “Undergraduate Entering Fee”? How College Students Are Paying Ridiculous, Hidden Student Fees
Some colleges are increasingly hiding rising costs under “fees” in fear of raising tuition.
At the University of California, Santa Cruz, where tuition runs to nearly $35,000 for non-residents, students every year pay more than 30 additional fees — including a small charge for what’s billed as “free” HIV testing. Students at Oklahoma State University pay a handsome sum to attend one of the state’s flagship schools, but they are also responsible for covering 18 different fees, including a “life safety and security fee.”
- 5 Reasons Why You Should Be Willing to Risk Arrest to Protect Public Education
Last Wednesday, thousands of Chicagoans turned out to demonstrate against school closures — 127 were detained and ticketed.
On March 21, Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced the district’s plan to close 52 schools and 61 school buildings before the 2013-14 school year; two more schools are set to close by 2014-15, for a total of 54. The Chicago Board of Education will vote on the plan later this spring, determining the fate of over 30,000 CPS students.
Critics have denounced the plan — a misguided attempt to chip away at the district’s $1 billion deficit — as a racist attack on the city’s most vulnerable communities. 53 of the 54 targeted schools serve elementary students, 90% of whom are African American (in a district that is only 40% African American). Last Wednesday, thousands of Chicagoans turned out to demonstrate against the closures; 127 were detained and ticketed.
Like you, teachers and students are the 99%
All kids deserve safe, quality schools in their neighborhood
Public schools belong to communities, not politicians or corporate reformers
Your school could be next
- The Real Problem with Education Today? Kids Hate School — and Here’s Why
Author Peter Gray talks about why children today have such trouble learning.
The following is a Q&A with Peter Gray about his new book Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life, which argues that students learn better when they are free to play, explore and teach themselves.
1. Can you explain briefly why you were motivated to write this book? You wrote about your son, who had trouble learning in a traditional school?
I wouldn’t say that my son had trouble learning in a traditional school, certainly not any more so than anyone else. I would say, rather, that he found that he was not free in school to follow his own interests, ask his own questions, solve problems in his own way, and present his own ideas honestly. He found it to infringe on his rights as a human being. Once he finally convinced his mother and me of this, we found a very different school—a school that is really a setting for self-directed learning. Ultimately, this experience led me to change the direction of my research. I began to focus on how children educate themselves—largely through free play and exploration—when they are free to do so and are provided with a setting that optimizes their ability to do so. I wrote the book because I came to believe that we, as a society, are stunting children’s social, emotional, an intellectual development by depriving them of the freedom they need to play and explore.
Whew! This is just one little slice of the education pie coming down to us from Alternet. Here are other sources —
“For too long, this state’s budget has been balanced on the backs of its students,” protest organizer Mathis Watson said in a statement to The Seattle Times. “We are the people who have been affected most by these cuts, and we are showing that we care.
Jesse Hagopian is a public high school teacher in Seattle and a founding member of Social Equality Educators (SEE). He is a contributing author to Education and Capitalism: Struggles for Learning and Liberation and101 Changemakers: Rebels and Radicals Who Changed US History(Haymarket Books). Hagopian serves on the Board of Directors of Maha-Lilo—“Many Hands, Light Load”—a Haiti solidarity organization. He can be reached at: email@example.com
Dave Zirin is the coauthor, with John Carlos, of The John Carlos Story, and author of Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining the Games We Love and A People’s History of Sports in the United States, as well as two collections of his sports writings, Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports and What’s My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States. He is a columnist forTheNation.com; his writings are also featured at his Edge of Sports Web site.
EVERY YEAR, as the NCAA basketball tournament parties onto our television screens, the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at University of Central Florida doggedly strives to be the turd in the punch bowl.
They release an annual study about the graduation rates of the teams that make it to “the Big Dance.” The study’s author, Dr. Richard Lapchick, puts the top programs–and by extension the top head coaches–under an unflattering microscope.
But this year, the Lapchick study has received even more attention than usual because Education Secretary Arne Duncan has gotten into the act. Duncan went public after reading the study, saying that teams which fail to graduate 40 percent of their players should be banned from postseason play.
Duncan, who played college basketball, said on March 17, “One out of five men’s teams in the NCAA tournament has graduated less than 40 percent of their players in recent years. If you can’t manage to graduate two out of five players, how serious are the institution and the coach about their players’ academic success? How are you preparing student athletes for life?” (No truth to the rumor Duncan was actually thumping a Bible when he made this statement.)
Williams also said:
First of all, 1999-2003, in that period, we had four players leave early to go to the pros. They are all still playing professionally. They haven’t come back and gotten their degrees yet. Hopefully they will. But they’ve made millions and millions of dollars during the time that they left. In other words, they didn’t have their degree, but it all depends how you measure success in your life.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
THERE ARE multiple political serpents twisting and hissing in this story. It says a great deal about Arne Duncan that his instinct is always to ban, to punish and to ostracize low-performing institutions. This has been his modus operandi as chief executive officer of Chicago Public Schools, as U.S. secretary of education, and even now in his offhand comments about the NCAA.
There’s a reason Newt Gingrich and David Brooks–two people who you could be forgiven for believing wouldn’t send their own children to public schools–think that Obama and Duncan have been “courageous” in their approach to public education.
Duncan is a one-trick pony who believes that fires are best put out with gasoline. But Coach Williams’s comments are telling, too.
His belief that “they’ve made millions of dollars…They didn’t have their degree, but it all depends how you measure success in your life” reveals far more than Williams intended. It’s the bluntest admission by a coach I’ve ever read that college sports is little more than a minor league for the pros, and any pretension that these are actually “student-athletes” is only for people who believe in unicorns and pixies.
Powerful forces are at work to squeeze every dollar they can from children’s daily experiences at schools. It wasn’t lost on anyone that 400 Maryland Ave SW should be renamed the Gates-Pearson building (Bill Gates, Pearson Publishers), rather than the Department of Education. Diane Ravitch, former Assistant Secretary of Education and author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (2010) repeatedly pointed her finger to the top floors of the DOE to say how they don’t listen to educators but only those who can profit off the data mining that testing provides. from —
Arne and his buddies are of course dead-wrong and missing the key links to student and athlete — faculty governance, faculty input, faculty control over the schools. Relying on the bloated ADMIN class and Board of Politically Appointed Wrongheaded Regents/ Commissioners/Boardmen, on how schools should treat students who are essentially indentured and slaves for coaches — free LABOR — the NCAA and the respective schools and political forces relying on the rah-rah of their work on the field, well, it’s the Arne Duncan-Gates-Obama-Bezos-Corporate two-shuffle. From the top down to the lobbies to the ADMIN class and privatizers, the rot just stinks. But no thanks to the Media Mushers, the mainline folk, we in this society get, what, an Op-ed from Duncan on higher education? And, alas, leave it to the middle of the middling CHE to just not take this up a notch with a true counter punch to this silliness of Obama and DC political hacks –
Unionizing Walmart, Amazon, University of Phoenix?
We will get to this conundrum, that SEIU is looking to go after Kaplan, University of Phoenix, the Art Institutes, et al. Funny, really. We have tens of millions of people barely making a dime in this world of precarious work. We have this juggernaut of privatizing, casualization of the work force, neo-liberal attacks on workers and work, the IT and Knowledge Class scheming for more ways to app and tech-out our real work and our real jobs. It’s a mad-mad-mad world of few, but not just One Percent, capitalizing on the junk of computing and computerization and nanotechnology. All that Google-Amazon-Bam-Bam-Bam of miniaturization artificial intelligence, drones for journalism mentality.
You can blame off-shoring and outsourcing and fragmentation of the workforce. You can blame Transnational Companies, Transnational Money-Finance. You can blame the endless growth mentality of our capitalistic system. But we never-ever blame the power of technology and the power of computer-app-AI-IT whizzes to further yank away the power of community, bricks and mortar and parks and schools and fountains and bridges and buildings and time inside the project for community planning and developing. The more bricks and mortar art, and services, you know, more places for people to congregate — real places, not the virtual crap — the more we have in common and the more we can help each other.
The revolution and diabetes treatment and the artful congregation of people and the energy needed to bring a society into the world and into a tribe of localities and regional outlooks, that is the reality of our times that the whizzes of computerization give squat about.
So, again, back to the shifting baseline syndrome. We haven’t even gotten to square 5 in our post WWII and post-Vietnam War and post-9/11 in terms of education, democratic rights for citizens, the rights of humanity and ecology, the right to live and drink and eat safe food. We are putting out a million large fires with pink Komen Foundation squirt guns.
So, why the hell would would we want to unionize the devil, University of Phoenix?
I’ll get Joe Berry to forward the article he wrote with a co-author in this issue of Radical Teacher. But here’s the abstract. And, it’s just more nonsense, the abstract. Why?
- where’s the social justice component of students getting ripped off?
- where’s the real lack of value of these programs coming into play in his article?
- where’s the reality that any job is not a good job, so why not go for a national week of fighting academic apartheid, because the exploitation isn’t just UoP?
- the number cited, employing somewhere between 140,000 and a million teachers — what about solidarity with the others exploited in this system — the students and the other for-profit workers who too are looking for a job in this rotten job market?
- will there be more movement toward centralized singularity teaching?
- Massive Open On-line Courses will turn into MOOCOCE — Massive Open On-Line Courses On Campuses Everywhere, so this is the fight we have to have: academic workers, the middling ones, the not-super star ones, will be out of work forever with the streamlining of magical computerization and delivering and integration of Google-ATT-Verizon to deliver ever faster and greater, canned or gimmick-filled on-line courses taught by the few for the many?
In the rapidly expanding world of for-profit higher education, there are no faculty unions. It has been predicted that there never will be. These institutions stand ruthlessly by the policy of staying union-free. Nonetheless, there are reports of attempts to organize. A recent email request sent out on the Coalition on Contingent Academic Labor (COCAL), a network of contingent faculty across the United States and Canada listserve, brought in several dozen messages about interest or efforts going on below the radar. Stirrings of organization exist already in such places as Kaplan, the commercial art schools, the ESL schools, and others. The spirit of this organizing is not optimistic, but it is determined.
This is an important issue for all educators because the for-profit sector is huge and growing. It includes the largest institutions of higher education (Phoenix, DeVry, Kaplan) in the country. For-profits employ somewhere between 140,000 and a million faculty. Their business model is overreaching traditional institutions by competing with them, by absorbing populations that would otherwise not have access to them, and by establishing themselves within or linked to traditional institutions (such as Stanford) as for-profit subsidiaries.
Is it possible that faculty in the for-profit sector might succeed in bringing in a union, or something like a union? Briefly, we will outline first why the for-profits can be organized, and second, why they should be organized.
The for-profits can be organized because:
- 1. The for-profit faculty are “our people” already. Many faculty at the for-profits also work in unionized places currently or recently. They know how different it is to teach under a union contract. They bring an understanding of union practices including organizing and bargaining.
- 2. The motives that drive these attempts to organize are the same ones that led to the teacher-faculty unionization movements of the 1960s and 1970s: decent pay, power over our work, and better educational conditions for our students. However, there is an additional motive today: desire for job security. This was not a major factor in the 1960s and 1970s, when there was a teacher shortage and tenure was nearly universal.
- 3. In the for-profits, management tends to be corporate CEOs, not educators. When organizing comes to the attention of these CEOs, their inexperience with labor unions exposes them to foolish moves (like firing the entire faculty, which happened at East-West in Chicago) that get them in trouble with the National Labor Relations Board. Their ignorance of workers’ rights puts them at a disadvantage.
- 4. The majority of teachers in the for-profits are working-class people. In the for-profits, there is no top-level elite faculty with tenure and lifetime pensions and benefits. That top level is occupied by owners and managers. The faculty at for-profits are mostly like the adjuncts and full-time non-tenure track in other institutions—low-income, bottom-level, no job security. In this sense, faculty and students, who are also overwhelmingly working class, usually attending college on government loans or grants, have much in common. For both faculty and students, the ladders of opportunity are disappearing. This is true for both undergraduate and graduate programs.
- 5. For-profits are weaker politically now than in many years, primarily due to congressional investigations, the Department of Justice suits and other criticisms over their fraudulent recruiting and use of federal student aid funds. In fact, most for-profits are dependent on federal money. This is a substantial source of leverage in organizing especially now since federal expenditures are under such a microscope. It is no longer unusual to hear criticism of the use of public funds to bust unions.
- 6. The Occupy movement has made all workers, especially precarious ones, more hopeful and willing to fight. It has explicitly targeted the 1% (including Goldman Sachs, which owns part of Argosy and the Art Institute schools), who are the owners of the biggest for-profits.
- 7. A regional workforce-based strategy is no longer an outlier among organizing strategies. Rising regional organizing strategies already exist…
Right-wingers All Over the Place
This think-tank (not) is looking over our shoulders, those of us deeper and more committed than left-leaning. Keep a watch on these fellows and gals!
The AIA is run by executive director Daniel J. Flynn, the author of the book Why the Left Hates America. The AIA is opposed to multicultural education. Additionally, the AIA objects to some applications of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; though Title IX was enacted to eliminate discrimination against women in higher education, the AIA argues that “the law is doing so at the expense of men,” such as a feminist professor at Boston College who refused to admit men to her courses. The group also is opposed to abortion. The group was criticized by prominent conservative and first Secretary of Education William Bennett, who described AIA as “a bad idea” at the time of its founding in 1986.