School segregation and the doctrine of separate but equal were the law of the land until 1954 when the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v Board of Education: We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. .

Sixty years later we have a new type of segregation called for profit colleges. These Wall Street and private equity funded online virtual schools are populated mostly by the low income and minorities, and charge two to five times the tuition of public universities and community colleges.

At these for profit colleges, about 50% of tuition goes to marketing and profits, and less than 20% to teachers’ salaries. They are characterized by high student loan debt, low graduation rates and degrees which are generally viewed as inferior in the job market.

For profit colleges, which primarily target, recruit and enroll poor and minority students, provide an educational experience which is separate and unequal, turning the clock back 60 years on Brown v Board of Education.

The for profit college industry represents racial segregation and exploitation financed by Wall Street, legislated by Congress, and regulated by the Department of Education . The Washington Post Company, owner ofKaplanUniversity, is one of the largest for profit college providers.

At for profit colleges, tuition can run $15,000 a year or more.KaplanUniversitycharges $31,000 for an 18 month criminal justice program. The Department of Education has reported that at some point in time up to 40% of loans enter into default. KaplanUniversityhas a three year loan default rate of 30%. The irony is no for profit lender would tolerate such default rates.

Graduation rates have been reported as low as 7% at some for-profit colleges. Kaplan boasts of a 30% graduation rate for the high risk minority students they target and recruit. Promoting a 30% graduation rate as an accomplishment for minorities is patronizing and disingenuous.

About two thirds of students who enter for profit colleges leave with no degree, and often are left with tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt. Of the few who do graduate, many find their earning potential is no greater than before they enrolled in these schools — many end up defaulting on their loans, and when this occurs credit is ruined, wages are garnished and it can be difficult to even rent an apartment.

Shackling the poor and minorities with tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt which is not dischargeable in bankruptcy is a form of economic disenfranchisement, not unlike a criminal record.  It is clearly part of the new Jim Crow that has septAmerica.

For profit colleges are businesses, not academic institutions. Real colleges do not have sales quotas for admissions advisers or require students to sign arbitration and non disclosure agreements, as many for profit colleges do.

In a recent lawsuit, the Washington Post admitted:KaplanUniversitytargets vulnerable populations using football field sized telemarketing operations, preys upon students’ pain and fears, and mandates admissions staff meet sales quotas.

 

The Post defended their actions by claiming their behavior was standard practice in the for-profit college industry, that while their language may be unbecoming for an educational institution it was not fraudulent, and that Federal law did not prohibit their conduct.

Like previous generations of those who exploit the low income and minorities, Washington Post CEO Don Graham claims to advocate on their behalf. Regarding poor minority students, in a letter to shareholders, Graham stated “Should such a student try college if it means a risk of high debt and possible default? In most cases, I would say yes.”

The truth is according toKaplanUniversity’s own data, 55% of the students they recruit and enroll have 4-5 risk factors defined by the Department of Education and only 30% of this cohort will graduate. Intentionally targeting these students, as Kaplan does, knowing 70% will not graduate is not providing opportunity.  When students drop out, Kaplan keeps the money, and the students are left with the loan debt.

Donald Graham, CEO of the Washington Post, has stated in company documents that each time Pell Grant awards have increased; Kaplan has raised tuition for the sole purpose of maintaining compliance with a government regulation known as the 90/10 rule. This drives students deeper into debt, and increases the likelihood of loan default. This is not serving students.
 The fact is:KaplanUniversity’s tuition policy is discriminatory and exploitative. For a 180 unit Bachelor of Science degree program, Kaplan charges the following: $30,000 for active duty military, $41,000 for veterans, $50,000 for international students and $68,000 for Title IV low income minority students.
 The Federal government requires schools to report the ethnicity of Title IV Pell Grant recipients, and Kaplan reports that the ethnicity of 95% of their Pell Grant recipients as unknown. What are they trying to hide?
The simple fact is, it is racist and unacceptable to relegate low income and minority students to a system of for profit colleges consisting of virtual classes at two to five times the cost of public colleges, with graduation rates as low as 7%, loan default rates as high as 30%, and degrees that are generally looked upon as inferior in the job market.   Never mind, for this is clearly a well thought out business plan on behalf of the for-profit colleges under the New Jim Crow.

Even though the Washington Post Company claims Kaplan degrees are valuable, it is unlikely they hire new graduates from Kaplan or any for-profit college. As a matter of fact, the Washington Post Company is being sued by the USgovernment (EEOC) for discriminatory hiring practices atKaplanUniversity.

This predatory industry is legitimized by the Department of Education. They regulate it, providing access to federal student loan money, permit loan default rates as high as 40% and graduation rates as low as 7%.

While there has been a long line of politicians, government officials, lobbyists, lawyers and Wall Street types lining up to feed off the tax payer funded $30 billion for profit college industry, there have been few willing to stand up for students and tax payers.

Two who have stood up for students and tax payers are Senators Tom Harkin and Dick Durbin, who are sponsoring legislation to protect veterans and require at least 15% of for profit college revenues come from non governmental sources. Predictably there is going to be an extensive lobbying effort to oppose this most modest of legislative proposals.

A vast array of allegedly respectable lobbyists, law firms, investors and government officials who support and profit from the for-profit cybernetic college industry need to be held accountable for participating in an industry which promotes segregation, racism and exploitation of low income and minority students.
While the Federal and state governments seem to have unlimited money to incarcerate, they seem to be less and less willing to fund higher education. If the Federal government cared about low income and minority students, it would take the $30 billion or so of tax payer money diverted annually to for profit colleges and redirect it to community colleges where it could be used to establish a humanistic education that foments critical thinking, citizenship education as well as vocational programs, all of which would improve the lives of struggling Americans.