Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Politics and For-Profit Education

I have worked for “for-profit’ institutions, I have also benefitted from the for-profit education (non-traditional education), so it is safe to say I am not against for-profit education (but I am not a cheerleader). Yes, there are bad apples in the industry, but that is the same in any industry, and yes, there needs to be some improvements made; but we are never supposed to rest on our laurels anyway in education or we start to stagnate.

It continues to sadden me whenever I see national politics and politicians injecting themselves negatively into this particular conversation, because I am a firm advocate that all sectors of the education industry should be truly working together to serve students. By the way, many schools out there operate on a ‘for-profit’ model, but just happen to be non-profit. I think we should really be looking at the ‘non-traditional’ education market rather than just for-profit, especially since they serve the same population.

The amount of energy and taxpayer money that continues to be wasted, by creating divisions is shameful because, that money could have been used to building bridges and improving student services and achievement as a whole.

“Durbin, DeVry Spar on Senator's Letter to High Schools”

“U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois sent high school principals in his state a letter Tuesday urging them to shield their students from the "often irresistible lure" of for-profit colleges -- drawing a pointed response from one of his constituents, DeVry Education Group.”

“Durbin, a leader among the Congressional Democrats who are deeply skeptical of the for-profit higher education sector, told the principals that he was continuing his work in Washington to "correct federal policies that enable this industry to take advantage of students." But he asked the principals to do their part to "ensure that your students are receiving honest and accurate information about their higher education options. "Students can hardly ride a CTA bus, watch their favorite prime-time sitcom, or surf the internet without being bombarded by attention-grabbing advertisements from for-profit colleges offering a hassle-free enrollment process, federal financial assistance, flexible schedules and a promised path to high-paying jobs and a better life," Durbin wrote. "But too often it doesn't work out that way."”

“His letter cites statistics about the completion rates and debt loads of the colleges' students and suggests that principals remind their students that community colleges offer similar programs "at a fraction of the cost."”

“In its response, DeVry, which is based near Durbin's Chicago home, noted that DeVry has educated tens of thousands of Illinoisans since 1931 and that the company teams with the Chicago Public Schools on an Advantage Academy that lets students earn associate degree credits while in high school. The program, it notes, was started in tandem with the then-head of the city's schools, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a close ally of Durbin's.

"The facts, and our history, demonstrate our commitment to Illinois students and their success in higher education," wrote Sharon Thomas Parrott, DeVry's senior vice president for external relations and global responsibility. "We encourage the senator to visit our Chicago campus, and our Advantage Academy, so that he can learn firsthand how we serve our students."”

I know this article will annoy some folks, but I like to think I am looking at this objectively.

Senator Durbin: what are you actually contributing towards helping students? This is not a political question (especially since I never vote along party lines), but a simple education question. Are you helping to solve or helping to divide? Are you consulting educators or political staffers? What is your end goal?

Remember, in the end, it is all about the students…

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

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