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View Diary: Student loan debt will exceed $1 trillion this year (123 comments)

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  •  Lack of new Schools (1+ / 0-)
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    The population of the US has grown by about a third over the last 40 years. How many new pubic Universities have we built? Not all that many - most states none. Some states are adding small annex campuses or two year Community colleges, but huge traditional campuses, not so much.  How many new private "Ivy League" type schools have been founded. Zero. There is an ever increasing number of very talented and motivated number of students competing for close to the same amount of seats in well regarded four year colleges.

    •  Well, there's also been expansion in for-profit (1+ / 0-)
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      Mr Robert

      schools teaching business/trade courses and offering 'certificates' to their graduates, promising very high placement rates, although it's questionable if they even come close to claimed, especially in this economy.  You've probably noticed these schools open up in a region near an older mall or commercial district, in a closed public school. Sometimes they only stay a few years and then mysteriously close, perhaps before there are actual graduates or after the first batch seems to have no luck finding jobs and questions about the schools credibility start to foment.

      These for-profit schools don't have anywhere near the same accountability as public institutions--except to their owner/shareholders, yet they get to rack up tens of thousands in tuition loans, federal (and often state) government approved, on behalf of their trusting and sometimes rather desperate students.  These are students who often may not have qualified for any formal 4 year degree program, but are given 'credit' for their 'life experiences'. Failing out of these schools leaves the horrendous student loan debt problem dangling over them, along with the continuing problem of a lack of employment opportunities.

      The qualifications for being an instructor tends to be based on 'life experiences' or obtained via 'business connections' or even owner relatives, rather than being based on having earned formal degrees beyond a 2 or 4 year college degree. Staff may be moonlighting, may be on probation, may have some ties to interlinked businesses or industries, and they may have the sort of 'connections' to shareholders and primary owner's families, the sort which might not pass the smell test at a public institution.  I'm not suggesting all the instructors are going to be bad or unqualified, but there have been some problem for-profit schools.  I believe 60 Minutes and other reporters have done examinations or exposes of the problems some of these schools have.

      If you do a true comparison of these for-profit schools to what are claimed to be similar programs in technical schools and associate degree programs in 2 year colleges, you'll find the actual subject matter and expected academic performance differ significantly, and that the private for-profit school tends to really, really help and coach their students to score well on their already simplified exams.  But then, that sort of educational program comparison is what the national educational accreditation bodies are pretty good at doing--and it is likely any given for-profit school hasn't yet bothered obtaining that sort of accreditation or they'll tell you it is 'pending'. Some will form their own accreditation board that they claim is as good as or even better than the regular accreditation organizations.

      Let's not forget Rupert Murdoch is hoping for-profit private education can be turned into a $200 billion business for him and that Wall Street's investment banksters are also salivating at the prospect of more for-profit schools displacing the public institutions and hauling in the dough via 'voucher' programs or other public funding mechanisms.  This major financial interest may help to explain the coordinated hate campaign being conducted by Republicans (with vested interests) against the unionized public teachers, who often have earned Masters Degrees in addition to their 4 year degree.  

      We can trace the recent interest of Republicans in privatizing various aspect of public education to the 1980's with Neil Bush (W's brother) trying to offer a packaged privatized curriculum which public schools would be mandated to buy, and also the fundamentalist drives to get home schooling approved and their private Christian schools accredited as being 'equal' to public schools, and they also work to make these pet projects eligible for public school vouchers and even state & federal funding.  Of course, such programs don't begin to address the needs of special education and disabled students, so they're left to the weakened public schools to handle.  Yet, I'm sure some sort of privatization effort will even be attempted for these students as well.  It's truly heartbreaking how much the for-profit conservatives have already accomplished in demolishing public infrastructure and services.  It is critical we reawaken awareness of how essential and precious our public education systems are, as well as how essential it is to fairly fund them so direct costs to students can be minimized and students can make as much of their educational opportunities as they can.  Our democracy's health depends on well-educated citizens advocating intelligently for themselves and each other.

      When life gives you wingnuts, make wingnut butter!

      by antirove on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 06:08:41 PM PDT

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