In a highly scientific and not at all reality show-like process, the top 10 Republican candidates have been selected for this evening’s debate. It is probably well known to readers of this blog that these men carry the water of powerful corporate interests from the Koch brothers to Ken Langone, founder of Home Depot, and many, many more. So while it might not surprise you, it should disgust you the degree to which this group has taken part in the corporatization of higher education.
Let’s start with Donald Trump, who is #1 in the polls and is basically a walking talking corporation. Trump started his own university called, humbly, Trump University which is naturally for-profit and has enrolled around 5,000 students, taking in approximately $40M. Lacking the proper accreditation for the real estate programs it touted, it is now under investigation by New York’s AG’s office for “deceptive conduct.”
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush has spoken out against common sense “gainful employment” rules on the campaign trail. Jeb Bush reduced for-profit oversight in Florida, leaving in place a “commission” that failed to act on any complaints in 15 years, while loosening rules to funnel more taxpayer money into the industry. A recent series on for-profit colleges in the Miami Herald details the issues in Florida better than we ever could in a blog post.
While we hate to have to elaborate on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker beyond AFL-CIO President Rich Trumpka’s perfect press release, those concerned about higher ed affordability should know he went to bat for oft-investigated for-profit behemoth ITT Tech, while trying to decrease oversight over all for-profit colleges in Wisconsin.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, aka AFT’s #1 fan, has allied himself with the for-profit higher ed giant University of Phoenix. Christie lobbied for UoP to expand into New Jersey, though why New Jersey students need a postsecondary option that is more expensive, of lower quality, and with a penchant for ignoring executive orders is anyone’s guess.
We could go on, but it would take us all day to work through the dense web of connections and we’d rather this conversation play out in front of a prime-time audience. The point is, for-profit colleges are delivering a questionable education at a high cost to students, and serve primarily as a way station for money on its way from students to investors. For-profit students aren’t the only victims here. The loans that fuel the for-profit industry are federal, taxpayer-financed student loans. Over 30 billion dollars a year of public money are poured into for-profit college coffers – their nearly exclusive source of funding. So why is the American public bankrolling the predatory business exploits of the one percent? Because, as demonstrated above, for-profit colleges funnel money into the campaigns of an overwhelmingly Republican group of sympathetic policy makers and elected officials. Don’t you think that deserves a little air time?