Did any of you catch the Frontline last night, College Inc.? It was pretty simplistic, but it underscored the fatuousness of all of the scrutiny on traditional public higher ed when contrasted with the total absence of regulation of for-profit institutions that are essentially mechanisms for defrauding the federal student loan program. Yes, friends–that’s where the profit is. These “universities” admit students who are unprepared or unqualified for college-level work, hook them up with student loans, take that money, and then spend 20-25% of their budget on advertising and promotions to lure in new marks (and only 10-15% of their budget on instruction!) Then they spit the students out with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, and few if any real job prospects.
Nice. But, it’s the American way.
There was a little entertainment value in the interview with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who is in fact just as dumb and unprepared as I told you he was. I guess there’s more money and political advantage in beating up on public schoolteachers than in strictly regulating for-profit colleges, although their business model is clearly profiteering on the public dime and contributing little, if anything, to actual education.