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On Tuesday, Sept 7, Senator Durbin of Illinois opens  long-promised congressional hearings to investigate predatory, illegal practices by for-profit college chains, including Kaplan Higher Education, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Washington Post. Kaplan Higher Education derives 85% of its revenues from federal funds, and we the people have been robbed; but that is only the tip of an iceberg.  Kaplan has also penetrated into local public education, in for-profit markets the public doesn't even know exist.  Because the Washington Post relies on Kaplan for 62% of its total revenues and almost all of its profits, it is agressive and brutal in its retaliation against any politicians who oppose its education-profit agenda.  It will take courage for senators to turn over these rocks, and determination for citizens to find accurate reports.
long-promised congressional hearings

The Washington Post's Education Reform Agenda - Exposed

It was never exactly a secret that the Washington Post derives 62% of its revenues from its for-profit education subsidiary, Kaplan Education.  Readers of the newspaper just somehow weren't aware of it.  The Post proclaims itself an "Education and Information" company.  It vehemently  demands the expansion of for-profit providers in public education AT ALL LEVELS by legislative and executive mandates, under the banner of innovation, but it has presented itself as motivated only by disinterested public virtue in these campaigns.

Federal investigations this summer exposed fraudulant student loan scams, and revealed deep dishonesty and deception of both taxpayers and students by Kaplan Education. Several Kaplan facilities were shut down outright. The general public was thunderstruck when this expose of Kaplan suddenly blew away about 25% of the Washington Post's stock value, and sent investors into a paroxysm of stock-shorting.  The Wall Street Journal and Business Week surveyed the wreckage last week, and links are posted below.

I'm returning to my Daily Koz diary blog to post these links and connect the dots, revealing the extent of the Post's for-profit penetration into national, state, and local school expenditures.  Its shadowy subsidiaries have opened the budgetary veins of public school districts, with no oversight, public discussion, disclosure, or even awareness. From elementary schools, through middle and high schools, and on to public colleges: communities are unaware that their education budgets have been fast-tracked straight to the Washington Post's bottom line.  

It is hard for defenders of public education to fight back against the Post's massive disinformation campaigns.  Post editorial pages denounce any resistance as serving the status quo, and opposed to innovation. Until now, we have fought each struggle in the dark about their motives, but we are already making progress.  California's community colleges have just extricated themselves from a "memorandum of understanding" which administrators signed with Kaplan last year, which allowed Kaplan to gouge students at ten times the public college tuition rates, for worthless online offerings. Who even knew?

Strip Mining American Education - For "Innovation" or Profit?

Most people only think of Kaplan as a chain of harmless test-prep centers. We now learn that these centers account for a minority of its revenue stream, while "Higher Education" is a cash cow, sucking $1.5 billion in revenues out of Pell Grants and federally subsidized student loans, with a repayment rate of less than 30%.  The damage to the lives of Kaplan's victims is almost incalculable - federal investigations reveal that these courses are largely worthless on the job market, and lead to debt, despair and broken lives for most of Kaplan's low-income victims, rather than to the security and income promised by recruiters.

There is growing awareness among investors of the Washington Post's vulnerability in the Higher Education for-profit scam industry, and that whole sector is now the target of powerful short-selling interests.  Ironically, because the Washington Post and other major news organizations are so tied to these "public-private partnership for education" profits, we can only turn (carefully) to the stock speculators themselves for more accurate information and, sometimes, insight.

With their core business damaged irrevocably by these disgusting revelations of systematic fraud, Kaplan must urgently seek safer places to harbor the capital it has amassed.  The Washington Post has been preparing the market for its next for-profit education expansion for years.  It has just reactivated the Venture Arm of Kaplan, to seek out and acquire even more businesses that "target students" in the K-12 "marketplace" of testing and accountability.  Here is a description that initiative from (link below).

Kaplan Ventures develops and grows innovative companies at the intersection of education, technology and compliance. The company’s portfolio includes medium-sized, high-growth businesses that offer an expanding array of specialized education programs that complement Kaplan’s core businesses. Kaplan Ventures is a part of Kaplan, Inc., a leading international provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Kaplan is a subsidiary of The Washington Post Company (NYSE:WPO - News) and its largest and fastest-growing division.

No Transparency in Public School For-Profit Contracts

I recently had an amazing conversation with the Lieutenant Governor of my state, whom I have stronglyly supported.  Although the administration pushed through and signed Race to the Top legislation to expand public payments to for-profit education service providers, he said had no idea such things even existed: "How can there be these state grants and contracts, and nobody knows about it?" he actually asked me.  The administration's education talking points merely claim their legislation "gives educators the tools they need" to improve student achievement.  I believe him.  It is not necessarily a relief to know that politicians I trusted are merely clueless, rather than corrupt.

Our education budgets are hemorrhaging, teachers are denounced and fired to make way for "intervention programs" to raise test scores, and nobody even knows who is doing these things, or why, or how.  Here is Kaplan's description of the plan (link below):

Kaplan K12 Learning Services partners with schools and districts to measurably propel student achievement. We work directly with educators to implement reading and math intervention programs for students who are significantly behind grade-level expectations, supplemental skill and test readiness materials for students who need help meeting grade-level expectations, and college preparation solutions for students who need support preparing for college entrance exams and admission.  

Given the sleaziness of the Washington Posts activities in for-profit higher education, and their lack of disclosure in using the newspaper to promote their own business interests at public expense, there is no reason to believe these "services" are less of a scam than Kaplans other activities.  Scandals and fraud in the education "free-market" go unreported.  Controlled trials of their "products" are released by major universities, and ignored by the Post as they trumpet their innovative solutions.  Who, but a cheat and liar, would carry this forward in such stealth and duplicity?

How can parents even know whether Kaplan's for-profit "learning services" are already dominating our school budget growth and our children's learning opportunities?  Contracts for "public-private partnership" services are hidden in school budgets under other titles, with no reference to where the tax money actually winds up.  In New York, for instance, all for-profit contracts are negotiated by the (corrupt) state BOCES clearing house, and appear in local school budgets only as payments to the state.

The Washington Post Doesn't Disclose its Financial Stake

Arne Duncan famously claimed that Hurricane Katrina was the best thing that could have happened to New Orleans schools.  Many careful studies have revealed that students in his for-profit public education ventures are worse off than those in the public schools he is still trying to destroy, but these are unreported in the Post.  In the editorial linked below, look for any disclaimer that the Post has any financial interest in its praise of Duncan's work.  Then, see if you can find the Kaplan scams embedded in the Louisiana Parish school system.

As "E-Learning" modeled on the defective Kaplan Higher Education Products is forced on school systems everywhere by Duncan's leverage, we see the Post positioning itself to profit. "CEO" administrators, under its patronage, are shuttering real schools, shutting down after-school activities like drama and school papers in high schools, strangling supply budgets and firing good teachers.

Expand the Congressional Investigation - Don't Weaken It

The Post just carried a guest editorial, by Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, which voices disappointingly weak and conciliatory admonishments, and serves to deflect real investigation and condemnation of the Post's truly contemptible actions.  Harkin is, so far, protecting the Post by calling for slightly increased regulation of the supposedly praiseworthy online for-profit college industry, so low-income students can continue to "benefit" from it.

Instead, we have to work in the coming weeks to expand and sharpen the scrutiny.  The Post and other papers will try to intimidate representatives, with the election coming up.  We must call on our senators and representatives now, and assure them that our actual support will outweigh editorial endorsemeents and political contributions. We'll vote for them, and walk our precincts for them, and chip in again, if they will stand up for the truth.

Next topic:
What Really Happened to Public Education in DC, LA, Chicago, and NYC - and Why?

Wall Street Journal on Wpo investments
Secret Shopper investigation
California colleges cut Kaplan tie
Stock traders survey damage to WPo
Mercenary Traders offer moral guidance
Kaplan creates venture subsidiary
Rafael offers context for Kaplan venture arm
Kaplan K12 Learning Services
Kaplin online in public schools, at public expense
Washington Post fails to disclose interest
Find the hidden partner in the Louisiana "Association of School Administrators"

Originally posted to chemtchr on Mon Sep 06, 2010 at 09:45 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Agrupemonos (5+ / 0-)

    This is a long, important analysis of the Washington Post's credibility and credit crisis.  It opens a crack in the "education reform" disinformation campaign that has to be widened into a window.

    I've been posting, in my absence from Daily Kos, on Deborah Meier and Diane Ravitch's magnificent blog, Bridging Differences, on  They'll be back online soon, for an important year.  Check it out.
    Diane Ravitch and Deborah Meier Blog
    My comments on Education Week

    It is the power of action that calls reason into being - John Dewey

    by chemtchr on Mon Sep 06, 2010 at 09:59:06 AM PDT

  •  Top of the need-to-know list (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, OHdog, whaddaya, chemtchr

    So now we learn that the Washington Post Co. is profoundly corrupt in the modern way.

  •  I was actually fired from Kaplan's online (7+ / 0-)

    university system because I wouldn't rig grades for students. I'm not the only one. Why am I taking the opportunity to say this now? Because I told the bastards in a conference call that I would haunt them at every opportunity, and if I ever had anyone from AAUP call to ask what I thought of Kaplan's accreditation process, I'd be their absolute worst nightmare.  :-)

  •  Excellent diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thanks, chemtchr for the analysis and quality links. Bravo. Great job.

  •  susan (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ohanian collects a lot of links as well

    i like the search option on her site

    •  We can pick up on a lot through OHanian (0+ / 0-)

      I read her as I was preparing this piece.

      Holy cow. I have to get dressed for work.  I'll be back this afternoon (exhausted).

      It is the power of action that calls reason into being - John Dewey

      by chemtchr on Tue Sep 07, 2010 at 03:31:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks chemtchr. I knew at a "cliff Notes" level (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, OHdog, chemtchr, Tentwenty

    the unholy nexus you mentioned.

    On a slightly different note, just sometime back read this post :

    Like the post says, Accountability is only for teachers, not for WaPO or Gates' stooges or Dunkin Duncan ( for the errr... Chicago Miracle).

    The other day, I was very impressed by the Chicago teachers union lead Karen Lewis for saying it like it is :

    Whereas in a public school system, where we do not select our children—we take whoever comes to the door—what we need is actually more resources and more support for the people that are there and the work that’s being done. However, again, Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein—I don’t know about Joel Klein—none of these people are superintendents. You have to have, again, credentials for that. These are business folks. Look, the business model took this country to the brink of Armageddon in 2008. And yet, we want to follow a failed business model and imprint that on top of public education? No. And these things are not innovative. What they are is they’re terrorism. They’re "my way or the highway." And they’re still not producing, quote-unquote, "results."

    •  Democracy Now ... Thanks (0+ / 0-)

      This is a great site, and they sell a wicked cool sweatshirt you can wear right into your building.

      Thanks for posting the link.

      It is the power of action that calls reason into being - John Dewey

      by chemtchr on Tue Sep 07, 2010 at 03:26:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I feel we need to have more such discussions on (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the Education Deform here at Dailykos. Teacherken does quite a few posts but otherwise not much going on. And give more visibility to such stories which the lamestream media won't cover.

    •  Daily kos is an underutilized resource (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I like teacherken, too.  He writes long stuff, that makes sense all the way through.  Not many places on the web where we can do that are there?.

      The diaries are a good way to reach a small group of true believers, but the attention-turnover is so high, we can't have an impact on the outside world through them.  We can link up here, but we can't keep it here.

      It is the power of action that calls reason into being - John Dewey

      by chemtchr on Tue Sep 07, 2010 at 03:24:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wow, wish I had seen this about 6 months ago. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OHdog, chemtchr

    One of my part-time employees wants to go back to school and get a degree in psychology.  She explored several options, but wanted an on line program because she has another job and also home schools (sort of) her two youngest children.  I encouraged her to look at the University of Maryland's adult education programs among others, but she insisted on "Kaplan University" because she could go directly into a masters program without ever having been to college. Really? They said they would give her "life credits" which are fine to some extent, but to count it as an entire undergraduate degree?  Long and short of it is that she took two courses in the spring, flunked one of them, and is now out several thousand dollars.  This is a woman whose children are on S-CHIP, who has just dodged a bullet on mortgage foreclosure, and has BGE hounding her for thousands of dollars of unpaid bills. What happened to the Washington Post?  They used to be respectable.

    A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. -Greek proverb

    by marleycat on Mon Sep 06, 2010 at 10:27:09 PM PDT

    •  Encourage her again! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      samddobermann, marleycat

      Marleycat, she can still do it.  Tell her so, she will believe you.  As long as we can keep the University of Maryland's doors open to her, she can go.

      People in such situations fall into the idea that its their own fault, that they've had their chance, and blown it.  Not so.  Her chance, and her children's, is in front of her.  Going to a real class is fun and stimulating, by the way.  Part time work with a decent boss, some classes, to get started.  A good life while they're young, laughter and a rich, full day for her and her children, are still within her reach.

      Don't let it break her.  I would go to her myself, if I could, to tell her how sure I am that the bastards can't destroy her hope.

      It is the power of action that calls reason into being - John Dewey

      by chemtchr on Tue Sep 07, 2010 at 03:13:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Say it, brother. Raping the student body for... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    fun and profit is clearly Kaplan's business model.

    First, support Republican politicians in their campaign to eviscerate public education.

    Then, descend like a flock of vultures upon desparate families trying to educate their children with promises to train them and lift them out of poverty, for huge up-front payments and fat student loans. The students end up unemployable and crushed under a mountain of debt? Not our department. Speak to collections.

    Lather, rinse, repeat.

  •  All this was laid out clearly in May (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in the Frontline PBS program Colleges, Inc

    It touches on Kaplan and looks at a lot of the other blood suckers.

    Watch it. It is on line, the whole program.

    I don't know how you can discuss this without seeing this program. Why does no one link to this????

    I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... I'm asking you to believe in yours. Barack Obama

    by samddobermann on Tue Sep 07, 2010 at 04:12:12 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for the link, Sam (0+ / 0-)

    That's a great resource, and the program undoubtedly had a role in bringing daylight to this question.

    Here's another good piece out today, which demonstrates that investigative journalism isn't dead yet:

    I like the "Obama student aid rule" tag, don't you?  Let us hope they hold steady and get it right this time.  We're up against Goldman Sachs and the Washington Post's degenerate heirs, though.  That tail has been wagging our dog, lately.

    It is the power of action that calls reason into being - John Dewey

    by chemtchr on Tue Sep 07, 2010 at 07:53:39 PM PDT

  •  the Yahoo Finance link is broken (0+ / 0-)

    Here is the question I sent to Yahoo about it:
    This link is broken.  Please restore it, and let me know how this happened.

    The Yahoo Finance link is included as part a Blog I posted Monday:

    This link worked until yesterday, at which time the blog was picked up by a number of  web sites, and also sent to a Washington Post education columnist for comment.

    Kaplan Education is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Washington Post.  My blog argues that the Washington post should disclose the launch of its agressive venture company in the for-profit public education sector, since it lobbies, editorializes, and reports heavily in that industry.  There are few references left on the web to coverage of the venture launch - and there is now a congressional investigation of Kaplan Education, for which Mr. Graham, the Post's owner, was issued a subpoena.

    I am concerned the links are being deliberately broken.

    It is the power of action that calls reason into being - John Dewey

    by chemtchr on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 04:30:17 PM PDT

  •  More on education "deformists" online: (0+ / 0-)

    Hey chemtchr, great diary! BTW, for the past 10 months, I've been covering the bankrupt Obama-Duncan education policy at OpenLeft, every Sunday.
    Slowly but surely the word is getting out!

    •  Duncan:Obama::Rhee:Fenty (0+ / 0-)

      Thanks, Jeff.  Turn your eyes on DC now, and lets try to open up this crack in their narrative, and let in some daylight.  Obama didn't endorse Fenty (who asked), and he just saw what the people really think, and VOTE, about the cheats and liars he's sold out to.

      I don't want the Obama administration to fail.  For his mother, actually: I hope he realizes he is the one who is president of the US, not his corrupt billionaire handlers, and shakes them off.

      It is the power of action that calls reason into being - John Dewey

      by chemtchr on Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 03:37:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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