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May 07, 2010


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Mike Flanagan

I agree with your conclusions, for the most part, but feel that you don’t consider another side of the story. A side that radically changes the perspective.

To wit:

1. Students are just as likely, if not more so, to either lie, misperceive, or deny what was said or occurred. For example, take the story about those students never setting foot in a hospital. I cannot speak to whether they did, but I’d say it’s worth asking the school (or rather, Frontline should have) to confirm or deny that was true. I’d bet the school will deny it, and could provide proof that the students were wrong. But that would interfere with the journalistic slant, of course, so why dig for those facts? I experienced this dynamic firsthand just today. You’ll like this one…

Students in a class today [at Video Symphony] told their instructor that in their previous class (with a different teacher) they did not cover “x” material. At first he took them at their word and brought the previous teacher’s “failings” to our attention. Later today this teacher referred to something he had covered in his class, and the students claimed that today’s teacher had not covered that material. Dumbfounded, our teacher showed on the big screen the same material he had shown earlier in the day (btw, our classes are 8-hours). And then asked them again whether they still claimed to have not seen it. Literally half the class said they had not. Fortunately another half of the class was just as incredulous as the teacher and corrected the “dimwits”(?). For all you and I know, these dimwits are the same type as the ones profiled on Frontline.

2. On the matter of “taxpayers paying” for students that enroll at for-profit schools (via student loans), and comparing the debt (implied—at taxpayer expense) with that of community college and public university schools is disingenuous, purposely misleading. Conveniently overlooked is the clear fact that taxpayers are “paying” for each public school student by means of the government-subsidized tuition. Not only does the government subsidy equalize the tuition differences between, say, a $2700 community college tab and a $14,000 average for-profit tab, but, worse, that subsidy money will never return to the taxpayers. That’s far different from the student loans that are, for the most part, repaid by the student back to the “taxpayers.” Community college students cost taxpayers more—perhaps far more—than do for-profit school students.


That would be a helpful solution if students actually read their admissions paperwork. But I am confident that having a set of papers as described above that the student signs off on would do little to reduce their ignorance about the consequences of enrolling in their program of choice. They already don't read all of the disclosures that we have now; more won't make a difference.

Now if they were required to pass some sort of simple test showing they understood the material disclosed, that would work. But simply requiring that they sign or e-sign another unread, unprocessed, uncomprehended document will accomplish nothing.

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