For those that didn’t know it, the Washington Post’s blood bank, Kaplan, does not just run a for-profit diploma mill they call a privatized ‘university’; they also have three other vampire subsidiaries that fall under ‘education’ and that comprise their Kaplan educational business. Educational sales by Kaplan make up 62% of the Post revenues. Newspaper publishing, television broadcasting and other for-profit endeavors make up the remaining 38%. Without Kaplan the Post would be relegated to fish wrap.
The university side of the Kaplan syndicate is run by Kaplan Higher Education. Kaplan Higher Education is a group of institutions that offer classroom and online certificate and degree programs in fields such as criminal justice, health care, business, information technology and legal studies. Iowa College Acquisition Corporation, operating under the Kaplan University brand also offers online programs. Kaplan also owns the online Concord Law School (http://dailycensored.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=21481&action=edit). Outside the United States, Kaplan offers a number of higher education, professional training and English/pathways programs, including Dublin Business School in Ireland, which offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in business and the liberal arts, and Kaplan Higher Education (formerly called Asia Pacific Management Institute) in Hong Kong / Singapore ((http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaplan,_Inc.).
Then, there is Kaplan Professional, as the Washington Post has branded it; this part of the company is said to offer an education for licensing, certification, and training purposes, in areas including accounting, insurance, securities, real estate, financial planning, information technology, and architecture. Kaplan Professional is deeply embedded in the UK where In May 2007 they introduced Kaplan Open Learning to the UK. Kaplan Open Learning (Essex) Limited (“KOL”) has been established as an affiliate college of the University of Essex. The affiliate college, Essex, provides what they call a ‘university level education’, offering programs of study for students who wish to obtain a university Foundation Degree (the company states that “Our foundation degree is the equivalent of two thirds of a full honours degree”). Students can top this degree, if they can get the bank loans or come up with the cash, with a degree that is peddled as an ‘Honours Degree’, what we call in the US a Bachelor’s degree. In the UK, which is far ahead in promoting policies that favor the wholesale privatization of the educational means of production, students can enroll with Kaplan and take their courses online and still receive an Essex degree regardless of geographical location, work or personal commitments. The company boasts that with Kaplan Open Learning, “you receive your degree from a top UK University and get all the support and facilities you would expect on campus” (http://www.kaplanopenlearning.org.uk/).
Then there is what is called Kaplan Kids and Schools; this part of the seedy enterprise is said to offer a range of programs and assessment tools for K12 students and teachers. Kaplan’s K12 programs can range from after-school tutoring and virtual high school instruction for children to online curriculum development, reading and math intervention, supplemental skill and test readiness solutions, and college preparation programs for school districts. Kaplan’s K12 programs ranges from after-school tutoring and virtual high school instruction for children to online curriculum development, reading and math intervention, supplemental skill and test readiness solutions, and college preparation programs for school districts. Look for this to grow as cyber-‘education’ replaces traditional classroom processes (ibid).
Finally, there is Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions. This side of the Kaplan ‘brand’ sells test preparation classes to students seeking to pass the GMAT examinations, the ACT, the SAT or the GRE exam just to name just a few.
Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions
I received the following message this week from Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions. It was sent to me by a professor at one of the California State Universities. The notice stated:
“On behalf of Kaplan Test Prep, I would like to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving holiday full of thanks — and turkey. Because you are a valued partner, we would like to take this opportunity to give your students a sneak peek at our upcoming promotion, which will begin on Black Friday. Starting Friday, students will have the opportunity to receive $200 off* of select Kaplan courses. Anyone interested in preparing for the February or June LSAT* should take advantage of this opportunity to save.
Kaplan’s Black Friday – Cyber Monday sale runs from November 25th through November 28th. Kaplan offers personalized learning with adaptive technology, top-rated faculty—by students‡ and the best guarantee in the industry: get a higher score or your money back.** Classes are also starting live, online via Kaplan’s exclusive Classroom AnywhereTM technology. Student will attend class from anywhere with an internet connection. It’s easy—just sign up, log in, and you’re there. To learn more, visit http://www.kaptest.com/lsat or call 1-800-KAP-TEST
This special offer ends Monday November 28th, so please share this information with your advisees before they leave for the holiday. As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I look forward to being a resource for your students as they work to reach their law school goals” (notice from state college received in an e-mail).
Finally, the ad noted (and you might wish to read this as rapidly and as deeply as you can, using your best radio-announcers voice):
*$200 discount applies to One-on-One, On Site and Classroom Anywhere™ Advantage, Extreme, or Advanced test prep programs for the GMAT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT, DAT, OAT or PCAT and On Demand courses for the MCAT, DAT, OAT or PCAT in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada. Excluded from the offer are LSAT, GRE and GMAT On Demand courses and MCAT and LSAT Summer Intensive Programs. Cannot be combined with any other offer or promotion. †GRE® is a registered trademark of the Educational Testing Service, which neither sponsors nor endorses this product. All other test names are registered trademarks of their respective owners. None of the trademark holders are affiliated with Kaplan. ‡Teacher ratings based on student responses received from December 6, 2009 - June 6, 2010 **Higher Score Guarantee: Conditions and restrictions apply. For guarantee eligibility requirements, visit kaptest.com/hsg.
Yep, this is it: Selling education like any other commodity under capitalism.
The two classes that will soon start in the area where I live are:
ERSF11710, which starts 01/04/12, Sonoma State University (GRE)
LSSF12301, which also starts 02/17/12, Sonoma State University (LSAT)
I immediately called Sonoma State University to find out if Kaplan was partnering with the CSU system or if they simply leased or rented space on campus to offer part of their on-site test prep. I spoke to a representative of the college and was told Kaplan simply rents space for the courses, they do not partner with CSU. In fact, I was told, they rent space at various UC’s and state colleges throughout the state. They do this, of course, to give the appearance of propriety that Kaplan is really an above board entity when in fact it is part and parcel of the scurrilous system of predation and profit seeking now so emblematic of ‘education’ and ‘learning’. What is interesting is not simply the fact Kaplan bivouacs directly within state universities and UC’s to market their courses and administer them, but this ‘legitimization process’ relies on public sector workers at the various college sites to announce Kaplan’s courses. In this way, public sector entities colleges and workers become unwitting accomplices in Kaplan’s well-thought out vampire plans to use public sector labor to promote their privatized curriculum — thereby socializing costs, while pocketing the private profits. The public workers who unwittingly help market the privatized education are much like grocery store clerks helping customers check out by computer scanner. They lay the seeds for the eventual vaporization of their own jobs.
The way it Test Prep works
The way the whole sordid mess called ‘test prep’ functions is that students who wish to take, let’s say, the GMAT test can do so on line in what Kaplan calls ‘Classroom Anywhere’ which means no teachers or within a classroom for intensive sessions, usually six three hour sessions. The cost of the GMAT is $1,549 dollars or three payments of $516.33. You can see all the course offerings and costs at http://www.kaptest.com/LSAT/Home/index.html. If the student wishes to take, let’s say, the ACT, then the cost is $499 or three payments of $166.53. Kaplan pitches that it will customize learning for students and they do so, they say, by creating a “revolutionary and personalized system” and “adaptive learning techniques” based on a student strength or weakness.
So, for example: You sign up for the course you wish to prepare you for the test you wish to take. Then, you take a diagnostic test on line. This is done, so they say, to diagnose your strengths and weaknesses. This diagnostic test is then ‘analyzed’ by the computer. Once this is done, the Kaplan ‘Smart Track’ kicks in. The student then goes online, watches videos and takes quizzes and practice tests. These results are then entered in the computer and the teacher who teaches within the comprehensive classroom setting is supposed to use these Smart Track results to generate lesson plans that encompass where students are in their learning as well as design relevant interactive group activities. Once the student has ‘adapted the course’ to their needs they then can track their progress through what is called the ‘Smart Report’. This is the online report card that Kaplan says tells students they can use to assess their learning.
Take for example the subject of ‘quadratic equations’. If students are having a problem understanding the concepts and logic behind quadratic equations then the teacher will know this through Smart Track and the student will know it through Smart Report. Teachers are then able, according to Kaplan, to adapt the course for individualized student learning.
Privatizing the educational means of production
Under the privatized educational means of production, students are simply customers that are buying an educational product while teachers are transformed into mere factory workers. The cost of labor is cheap for Kaplan– there are no unions or tenured professors or job security. Pay is low to assure that the cost of labor is kept at minimum so that maximum profits are generated for the company’s stockholders. The educational means of production are revolutionized through cyber technology, assuring that the relations of production, teacher’s work and the labor employed at the marketing level of the company, are also revolutionized as we saw above.
This is the cyber model that is slowly replacing education in post-literate America. It is the genie out of the bottle that promises to transform all of education and those whom labor in it, placing faith in for-profit companies and the technological miracles that they are able to employ they say, in the service of learning when in fact the whole enterprise has been concocted to maximize shareholder profits and in the case of Kaplan, to assure that gallons of blood are served up to the corporate master that owns them – the grubby Washington Post. In this case that master would be the insider trading cabal of the Graham family and the various stockholders looking to make a buck off of education by reducing this public and collaborative effort to little more than for-profit gruel. What gets lost, of course, is knowledge acquisition while teachers are replaced by machines and students become just one more customer, just one more cog in the for-profit machine. We are left with Smart Tracks, Smart Reports and dumb students.
This new cyber educational corporate model is snaking its way through societies throughout the world. As long as the educational means of production is in private hands, we can be assured that as profits rise, education will suffer. In the for-profit model of education it must be this way: for there is only one raison d’etra and it is to maximize profits at any cost. In this case the cost happens to be learning, literacy and perhaps democracy itself.