We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Frontline: College, Inc (55:17m video)

from PBS television. 

In case you missed it, this is an excellent examination of another Wall Street scam which has been exploiting students and the US government while making investors rich. 

The key elements are corporate scam artists setting up private educational institutions, deceived students, collaborative accrediting agencies, government officials who look the other way--similar in many ways to the recent sub-prime mortgage scams. The end result is that students at these private schools are defaulting on these loans at a rate of 50%, and many graduates from these schools can't find employment in their fields because of poor training and lack of accreditation of their schools by professional associations. Many such students end up with several hundred thousand dollars in debt due to accrued interest.

This has been going on for a number of years. I myself, back in 1987, took a job in San Francisco teaching math to copier technicians enrolled in a private trade school. It soon became apparent to me that they were recruiting any students  they could get their hands on regardless of any aptitude for this kind of work and signing them up for student loans. I was so shocked that I resigned immediately after working there only a few months.

I've noticed over the years that this issue never made it into mainstream media. It appears that only now has PBS covered the issue because of the fiscal problems that the government is having, and government moves to cut back on student funding.

The exposé was generally well done, but they failed to follow up on one key aspect of this--the purchasing of accreditation from regional educational accrediting agencies by these private educational corporations. They made only brief mention of it at 47:28m into the program.