GAO revises its report critical of practices at for-profit schools


#1

GAO revises its report critical of practices at for-profit schools
By Nick Anderson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 7, 2010; 8:44 PM

The revised report, posted Nov. 30 on the GAO Web site, changed some key passages. In one anecdote cited as an example of deceptive marketing, the GAO originally reported: “Undercover applicant was told that he could earn up to $100 an hour as a massage therapist. While this may be possible, according to the [Bureau of Labor Statistics] 90 percent of all massage therapists in California make less than $34 per hour.”

The revised version states: "While one school representative indicated to the undercover applicant that he could earn up to $30 an hour as a massage therapist, another representative told the applicant that the school’s massage instructors and directors can earn $150-$200 an hour. …

In another example, the report originally stated that a college representative “told the undercover applicant that by the time the college would be required by [the] Education [Department] to verify any information about the applicant, the applicant would have already graduated from the 7-month program.”

The revised version states that “the undercover applicant suggested” that possibility and the “representative acknowledged this was true.”

Honest mistakes tend to be random. These changes weakened and diluted tendentiously hostile wordings. Sound like one of the hit team was either not fully onboared with the hit or had a twinge of conscience.


#2

War on For-Profit Colleges Reeks Even Worse
Posted by Neal McCluskey
Cato Institute
December 8, 2010 @ 4:03 pm

On November 30 — without making any announcement that I could find on its website — the GAO released a modified version of its report, and according to a comparison between the old report and new one by the Coalition for Educational Success, the new version contains several changes that cast its for-profit targets in better light than they first appeared.

According to Stephen Burd of the Center for American Progress, career colleges have been self-servingly crying – or at least whispering — foul over the GAO report for months now. Burd has been a leading for-profit basher, but I’d have been inclined to give only limited credence to concerns about dirty pool, too, until this latest revelation trickled out.

Now, though much needs to be determined about why the myriad changes to the report were made, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to learn that people at the GAO have actually been in on the crusade to demonize proprietary colleges.

McCluskey considers the possibility of a government “crusade” to exaggerate and smear.


#3

Personally I am tired of hearing how people need a college education and in the end what really happens is a high school graduate could fill the position easily.

Then I see the vocational schools that tell me that there is tons of openings in the fields they are teaching but the reality is that they do not exist. I remember one girl learning to use the old style machine which had the punched cards that would come down into slots back in business school


#4

I remember one girl learning to use the old style machine which had the punched cards that would come down into slots back in business school

If that was in 2000, that was stupid - school and student alike. If that was 1970, then that would have been a decent entree into the computer world.


#5

I agree completely. (Was gonna post a smiley, but I lost a whole smiley pad folder - must have accidentally deleted it.)


#6

I agree too. In 1980, punch cards may have been justified in some instances but, by then, they were definitely on the way out. I enter college in 1981 and it wasn’t even taught. We had Deckwriter terminals that were connected to the school computer via a telephone placed into a cradle modem. We killed lots of trees by printing to lots of wide spools of green and white paper.


#7

When I was a kid when Mom was going to school for her computer programming training, I collected a lot of that used printout paper to use the unprinted white-only side of as drawing paper.


#8

:eek: Your Mom secretly indoctrinated you into recycling, FC? :eek:

I haven’t heard DEC’s (Digital Equipment Corporation) name mentioned in a long while! And it’s been even longer since I’ve seen an acoustic coupler modem!


#9

Naw, I didn’t, I just couldn’t afford to buy good drawing paper for him. Back in my days, you learned to “recycle” everything that was recyclable.


#10

Honest mistakes tend to be random. These changes weakened and diluted tendentiously hostile wordings. Sound like one of the hit team was either not fully onboared with the hit or had a twinge of conscience.

Union worker ???

.


#11

Nah. Money was tight then, and the printout paper that was being thrown out was free. I’ve still got some of it somewhere.


#12

I agree completely.

I’m going to take heat for this, BUT.

This is most people’s problem with for profit colleges. They have a responsibility to their shareholders and board members.
NOT to the people who are paying to be educated.

They are running the same scam that caused the housing bubble. You tell your potential students that they have a guarenteed job (your house is a guarenteed investment), IF they graduate they are stuck with an iffy education and a hefty loan to repay (stuck uderwater in their mortgage), and we are stuck picking up the tab of their defaulted gov. loan.

Edited to add:

We should make our public schools “for profit”. I’m sure that will fix our broken school system.


#13

Sweating Bullets at the GAO
December 17, 2010
By Frederick M. Hess and Andrew P. Kelly

The authors of the Government Accountability Office’s for-profit secret shopper investigation pulled off a statistically impressive feat in August. Let’s set aside for the moment that on Nov. 30, the government watchdog quietly revealed that its influential testimony on for-profit colleges was riddled with errors, with 16 of the 28 findings requiring revisions. More interesting is the fact that all 16 of the errors run in the same direction – casting for-profits in the worst possible light. The odds of all 16 pointing in the same direction by chance? A cool 1 in 65,536.

The problem is that the “we were in a hurry” defense doesn’t explain why the errors all point in the same direction — one that happens to reflect the policy preferences of the chairman of the Senate HELP committee and of administration appointees at the Department of Education. Lanny Davis, the veteran Clinton hand who has now taken to the barricades for the for-profit providers, told us Wednesday that he thinks there is an obvious distinction between “gross incompetence” and “setting out to deceive” — and that the original GAO report crosses the line.

Some commentary from InsideHigherEd.com. They also seem to think the uni-directionality of the “errors” suggestive of something less innocent than random error.


#14

Lanny Davis defending for profit institutions. I guess a blind hog can find an acorn once in awhile.


#15

I’m going to take heat for this, BUT.

Lighting the burner …

This is most people’s problem with for profit colleges. They have a responsibility to their shareholders and board members.
NOT to the people who are paying to be educated.

They are running the same scam that caused the housing bubble. You tell your potential students that they have a guarenteed job (your house is a guarenteed investment), IF they graduate they are stuck with an iffy education and a hefty loan to repay (stuck uderwater in their mortgage), and we are stuck picking up the tab of their defaulted gov. loan.

Centered, do you have any experience with for-profit colleges or their graduates? Being in an industry in which several specialize, I do. First, I graduated from DeVry Institute of Technology, Phoenix, AZ. It wasn’t, for the time, cheap, but I discovered several things as I started working and have worked in the electronics industry. First, I knew what I was doing, and had the tools to learn the particulars of nearly 34 years of jobs in the industry, during a time of incredible change in that industry. Second, while every industry has its up and down cycles, the jobs DeVry people said would be there have been there. Third, just as the DeVry people said, companies do seek and hire DeVry grads - more than half the Test Department at one job I had was DeVry grads recruited at the schools in KC and Columbus. I’ve worked with grads of other for-profits and public universities. I’m not saying there aren’t any, but I have never seen a grad from a for-profit who was an idiot. I’ve seen good people from public universities, and I’ve seen some who were incompetent, some who I would be afraid to work near (literally!) and some who were “merely” not prepared to work in the industry.

The problem with broad-broom condemnations like the one you posted, Centered, is that you set yourself up to be easily knocked down by some one with experience in what you condemned.


#16

And now to flip the script:

… problem with for profit colleges. They have a responsibility to their shareholders and board members.
NOT to the people who are paying to be educated.
Oh, really? Prospective students and their parents are too dumb to check for fraud? Tell me, Centered, to whom are public university adminicrats and professors responsible? To whom do they answer? Certainly not to students! Certainly not to the parents paying tuition! Certainly not to taxpayers! Public universities are vastly larger than for-profit colleges and receive, directly and indirectly, vastly more taxpayer $$. Let’s focus accountability on where the most taxpayer $$ is spent!

They are running the same scam that caused the housing bubble. You tell your potential students that they have a guarenteed job (your house is a guarenteed investment), …
Have you ever listened, Centered, to public universities recruiting ads for nursing or technology programs? I have an acquaintance who went to a local JC and got an LVN certificate. I respect her very much, but any reasonable counselor at that JC would have suggested another career field, for at least two reasons: her English is very limited; if she’s taller than 5’ and/or over 100 lbs. it isn’t by much. A year and more after earning her certificate, she’s still working as a cashier at a gas station - she can’t find a job in nursing. But the public JC has her and taxpayers’ $$! Again, let’s focus accountability on where the most taxpayer $$ is spent!

IF they graduate they are stuck with an iffy education …
Really? You know all for-profit colleges provide “an iffy education”? You’ve studied every for-profit college and every one of their programs? See my comments in my previous post! And you know that every program at every public university is a paragon of excellence? Two words: Ethnic Studies. Two more words:Women’s Studies. Have you seen/heard some of the fruitcakery that poses as teaching of History or Literature in public universities?!

… a hefty loan to repay (stuck uderwater in their mortgage), and we are stuck picking up the tab of their defaulted gov. loan.
Ummmmm … yeah. The BSEET program tuition at DeVry is now ~$80K, plus books; that is probably $15K-$20K higher than a BS degree at a University of California (assuming the student can get all the courses necessary to graduate in just 4 years, a dubious assumption; at 5 years, the $$ difference almost disappears); that is probably about the cost of 2-2 1/2 years at a private university. So the phrase “hefty loan to repay” applies equally aptly to for-profits, public universities and private non-profit universities. Which two of the three sectors offer degrees in Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies (and burden students in all other majors with requirements to take courses in those fields)? Care to apply this “standard” to where the most student defaults occur … public universities? Again, let’s focus accountability on where the most taxpayer $$ is spent!

Public universities are run by the government and funded (mostly) by various levels of government. If you want accountability, let’s clean those sewers and founts of waste first!


#17

Of course, for-profit colleges consider their share-holders! If they don’t turn out good graduates, with saleable skills, the shareholders are going to be up in arms.


#18

If they don’t turn out good graduates, with saleable skills, the shareholders are going to be up in arms.
Completing/repeating the thought, students graduating without marketable skills figure it out very quickly and make for really lousy advertising. And very soon, enrollments and profits shrink. Like any business, those that produce poor quality are soon out of business.


#19

This isn’t going away:

Issa’s First Oversight Target: GAO Hatchet Job on For-profit Education
by Capitol Confidential
Big Government
12/23/10

A bipartisan group of six Congressional lawmakers asked Wednesday the Government Accountability Office to reexamine its report on the for-profit education industry. The agency sent undercover applicants to some of these schools. The undercover investigators claim to have been misled on costs, job placement and future earnings.

Of additional interest to the presumptive GOP oversight chairman is GAO’s procedures for revising a previously issued report.

GAO unveiled its for-profit report on August 4, 2010, at a politicized hearing by Senator Tom Harkin. The agency’s modified report, however, was released with little fanfare on November 30, 2010: …

Issa’s fellow signatories include Republican Reps. John Kline and Brett Guthrie and Democratic Reps. Alcee Hastings, Carolyn McCarthy and Glenn Thompson.