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Over Easy: Predatory Education

4:57 am in Uncategorized by Crane-Station

These satirical robotic-voice videos portray the God-awful truth of prolonged unemployment, even for people with graduate degrees. It wasn’t always like this; a good education used to mean security, a job. We could do better than our parents, if only we worked hard and studied harder. A CNN short clip featuring a law grad with good credentials, who can only find work at a coffee shop shows the reality of today’s free-for-all market.

Given the dismal employment market, where graduates essentially beg to work as slaves, the atmosphere is perfect for predatory marketing and relentless criminal enterprise of the shameless for-profit schools.

In an article titled Neoliberalism and the For-Profit, Predatory Educational Industry: You Can’t Regulate a Criminal Enterprise, Danny Weil explains that “There are literally thousands of these schools in existence and most are online schools with office fronts that act as administration centers for the whole for-profit syndicate.” Dr. Weil names a few for-profit and heavily traded such schools: DeVry, ITT Educational Services, and others.

One such school, a start-up law school, was the reason my husband (Mason aka Fred) and I moved to Paducah, KY, in 2006. He was offered a job, and since he loves to teach, he accepted, and we relocated. Moving to Kentucky from the Pacific Northwest was like moving to a different country. Having Washington plates is probable cause for arrest here, but aside from that, he enjoyed his job, and we loved the lush beauty and friendly people in Paducah. I had never lived in a river town.

However, something was amiss with Fred’s new job. Call it intuition or whatever, but shortly after he began his work, I woke him up at 2 AM, and said, simply, “Your boss is a con man.” Fred told me I was crazy. (I cleaned that up because it is Over Easy) I said, “You watch.” To fast forward, I was right, and he blew the whistle, refusing to mislead or lie to students. Things went Orwellian for us after that, to massively understate.

I am not sure if we were experiencing the beginning of a new wave of shameless abuse of a vulnerable population (in this case, students), but almost all of the lawsuits I have read about these for-profit-gone-awry schools say the same thing, give or take, more or less, from the class actions involving screwed students from any one of these predatory schools. The irony is, were it not for raw greed, many of these schools would succeed and do well.

This one happens to be a class action from a different school in the area, Daymar College note: You must type “Daymar” into the search box:

According to Students, Daymar aggressively recruits students, and induces them to

enroll in and attend Daymar by making material, false, and misleading
representations, including promising full transferability of Daymar credits to other
institutions of higher learning, and jobs upon graduation. The Students now assert
that very few Daymar credits are actually transferrable, and that very few students
obtain any sort of job in their field of study after graduation.

An arbitration expert in this case explained that he had never seen a case where students were required to pay, up front, the entire cost of arbitration, which could amount to many thousands of dollars. In other words, the students have no recourse.

So, what does this look like in reality? I can tell you, from what I observed at the predatory school we had the misfortune of becoming involved with here. Deans were skimming the portion of student loan money that was allocated for living expenses. Even the loan company, Student Loan XPress, has been investigated for extensive loan corruption. Students were required to purchase books from one vendor at inflated prices, a vendor where one of the Deans was the sales rep. Students were receiving eviction notices because they could not meet their rent payments. Deans changed grades without telling professors and engaged in a (I swear to God) grades-for-sex scheme. Bank fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, admitting students who never should have been admitted, abusing faculty, and in general, what is called Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO). Just when things heat up enough, the whole group of cons, and you can never, ever tell who is the good guy and who is not, declare bankruptcy, leave town, stiffing the utility companies on their way out, and do the very same thing elsewhere.

As I see it, predatory for-profit education is a modified form of that corruption we saw before the housing boom fell, where white collar criminals posing as escrow companies, only without a physical address, valid phone number or any employees but with several off-shore bank accounts, stole people’s entire life savings, and the ensuing RICO litigation, after people realized that every penny they had saved since they were sixteen was gone, was so expensive, massive, time-consuming and complicated, that many people simply gave up, gathered what was left of their ruined lives and moved on.

The litany of horror from the school where my husband taught is here. While some students were able to complete their legal education elsewhere, there were no consequences whatsoever for the people who operated what amounts to a Ponzi scheme, and this is not an isolated situation at all.

Also, have you ever been telephoned by one of these predatory schools? I have. I remember saying, “Look. We are not communicating. I don’t have any money. Period. I have told you, over and over, never to call me again.”

You may also be interested in knowing that you have options, if you are poor, but wish to take classes. Many excellent schools, such as MIT, offer online courses free of charge. (MIT Open Course Ware)

An extra-curricular exercise, that cost $130,000

List of For Profit Colleges and Universities

Aided by Fox News, For-Profit Colleges Use Shameless Propaganda to Mask Shameful Conduct

Largest for-profit U.S. university expects to be put on probation by accreditor

PS: Standardized testing is yet another scam, I think. Do you agree?

Also, KrisAin is a hard act to follow! He has presented an excellent series on the topic of guns and gun control. Like Kris, I have a posting word ‘speed limit,’ which I have exceeded, so I apologize for that!

Over Easy: Embracing Bohemianism

4:46 am in Uncategorized by Crane-Station

Stray Shopping Cart

photo by timbrauhn on flickr.

Good morning everyone. Since we were having internet broadband connection problems last night, I am re-posting this non-fiction essay from last year, and I hope you enjoy it. It is on par with some discussions we were having last week at Over Easy, about homelessness and poverty in general. Please feel welcome to share your experiences. Off-topic is welcome as well.

Embracing Bohemianism

There was a time, early in my dumpster diving and scavenging life when I clung to the notion that somehow, some way, I would have a lot of money, and things would be wonderful. By scavenging, I mean this in the truest sense. There was a Labor Ready close by, but it was always packed, and if you were not a connected regular worker, days could pass without work and so, I looked for coins in the street. One coin leads to almost always another nearby. Fast-food drive through windows were the best places to search for breeding loose change.

My feet hurt all the time. There is no real place to sit in any given urban area. It can take all day to put a meal together because this place that has this thing for these few cents can be very far from that one. Sometimes I would sit, on a curb, to rest my feet and study people. Here is what one who fits into society puts into a shopping cart at the grocery.

Weekend shopping carts were the best to watch because many people with lives shopped on the weekend. They could not only afford to eat, they could also afford to wash clothes. They had dishes and they could wash them. They rushed and rushed, all the time. Groceries, appointments, lessons, kids. Rush, rush, drive and park. Rush in and rush out. In and out the aisles, up and down the stairs, a non-push push here, a little shove there, rush, rush. Everyone had a phone and every call was as if it were the last phone call ever to be placed; everything was important to everyone.

I studied and studied: There is what one wears. Here is what one drives. Here is one who maintains a lawn. This one has made beds and not just mattresses. Everything matches. There is never, ever less than everything. Everything for the car, everything for the kid, everything for the home. I’ll just bet, I would think to myself, that these are some underpants people. One clean pair for each day of the week, I’m certain of it.

I studied and studied, so that someday, when I had a life just like those people, I would be ready. I would know what to buy, and what to wear to buy it, and how to cut my hair and what toothpaste to use for the whitest teeth, what car to be seen in, what gym to be seen at, what detergent for the most gleaming clothes. I could drink with the shopping cart people someday because the ads everywhere assured me I could. Casually not checking the level in my glass, I could drink and be younger and thinner and sexier and funnier, because people who fit into society, of course, don’t have a half gallon of Popov vodka under the kitchen sink, and they are not sitting in a room, in a worn-out recliner, twisting the window shades shut to make sure the passing public is not aware.

I studied and studied, so that someday, when I had a life, the only thing that I would ever be tired from would be my wonderful, lucrative job where I was admired and constantly promoted. I would go out to dinner, go to the park, attend important meetings where I would make important decisions, supervise people and projects, tell people that my schedule was too busy just now, could we do this say, next week. I would drink designer cups of coffee with all the right people in all the right places and plan more coffee time with more people.

I would have people in my life who would ask, so that I could tell them these things and make these plans.

During my studies, my curb was not always solitary. But it was always anonymous, which was absolutely perfect, because the non-distance distance allowed me to shock, comfort, and then leave the company of wandering curb dwellers. I could say anything from So how much time did you do this last time, to Boy do I ever remember living on a plane all the time. I could curb-blend. I had no idea how to blend in with the socially acceptable groups I studied, but this was minor. It would come with time, teeth, looks, youth, money, and a home packed with beautiful things and visited by gardeners and housekeepers.

On my curb, I was lower than some and higher than others, and a perfect judge of everyone.

The shopping cart underpants people were a blast to judge: I’ll just bet this one is sleeping with that one and lying about it to this other one and milking this from that one and cooking the books and showing up a little too late and a little too hung over. Well, they kind of made it easy to be supreme judge because they talked about themselves all the time and always loud because I was just a nobody on a curb, who would shut up for that? The lower people were no match for my curb-gavel, I mean, I’ve hit the skids, but at least I’m not walking around the park asking strangers for money.

I did not know any of these people and I judged them all, every last one of them, from my curb courtroom. The court of last resort. I judged the cart people because I wanted to be the cart people. That way, other cart people would like me.

Today, I subsist on what people throw away. I do not have the wonderful job or the money or the possessions that I once wanted and thought I needed. I notice more because I am not in a hurry. I do not judge people anymore. I am just fine, being who I am, and being poor. It is more than enough.

Bohemianism and its elements.

Attack Of The Plastic Bag

4:20 pm in Uncategorized by Crane-Station

This post is for Doremus.

Today my husband and I got on our bikes and rode into town, to pay our bills and visit the unemployment office. Due to the unchanging climate change, it is possible to ride bikes all over town, in the dead of winter, and so today, we did not leave our carbon footprint on the earth. At least for a while.

No one will hire me, even to make sandwiches, because of my record. So I wrote Frog Gravy. But that’s another story. Today I read the classified section of the local newspaper, and I saw a horticulture job advertised, and since I got straight As in Horticulture while I was in prison, I figured, well, I’m perfect for the job. So, I made a planned stop at the unemployment office. The place was packed. And dead silent.

After I filled out all of the paperwork explaining my whole life, and after my husband finished paying bills, we met each other on our bikes and began our homeward journey.

I ride a Mongoose with a kickstand and a rusted chain that I bought on sale at Walmart one time. It’s yellow. Yeah. And he rides some kind of a Raleigh dueling-suspension for lack of a better term, road bike. Or maybe it is a mountain bike, but anyway, I got that one from Goodwill one time. It’s silver. Uh-huh.

So, we’re riding down the street in downtown Paducah, just a stone’s throw from McCracken County jail, where I was once a guest. All of the sudden, my bike just stopped dead. It was as if someone chocked the tires, in mid-cycle.

Stay with me here, this is the truth. I nearly flew over the handlebars. Here is what happened: A one-gallon-sized zip lock plastic bag had entangled itself in the, what’s that thing called? The derailleur. It bent…listen to this…It bent the derailleur, and placed the thing over the top of a spoke in the rear tire, without bending the spoke.

So much for my bike. The wheel won’t budge. We are miles from home. Crap like this only happens in my life, it seems.

Anyway, along came a man named Bill, straight from God, he was, and Bill gave us a ride home. Thank goodness. We need more kind people in the world like Bill! Thank you so much, Bill. We will do our best to pay it forward and we will never forget you.

I may look for another bike at the recycle center, where I plan to take my ruined bike.

You think that’s funny, do you? Yeah. Laugh it up. There’s more. Our African Grey parrot knows it’s gonna be Spring soon. So, his internal clock went off, and he is, once again, sexually active. Thank goodness he is bonded to my husband’s hand and not to me.

Have a look at this video. Laugh yourself sick. I do, every morning.

Also, if y’all are into prayer, somebody please pray for me to get a job soon. Thanks!