Trudeau’s Doonesbury has finally gotten hold of the astonishing spree pioneered by Dr. John Sperling, founder of the Apollo Group. Since Dr. Sperling’s invention of the university dedicated to fleecing the taxpayer, he has accumulated billions. His University of Phoenix is the juggernaut con-game that got the attention of the boys at Goldman Sachs. They bought up Kaplan and other enterprises, turning them into clones of what Dr. Sperling invented. And we all know how honest the boys at Goldman Sachs are.
But even the sharks at Goldman Sachs are unable to quite reach the deep depths of social depravity that Dr. Sperling excavated from his lair in Phoenix, Arizona. Even they haven’t been caught paying alcoholics $20 each to put their signatures on “enrollment forms” and paperwork required to obtain Pell Grants and Federally backed Student Loans. Yes, that was in a lawsuit filed against University of Phoenix. They have “settled” more than one of those.
It is a very simple formula. The first part is easy for any sociopath worth his or her salt. Simply don’t educate nor care about students. Deliberately recruit as many students as possible who you know can’t possibly succeed. And when the going gets tough, lower your standards. Hire professors who will allow students to retake an exam after posting the answers online.
The second part is no harder. Hire excellent PR staff and advertisers. You can afford to pay them. Yell from the rooftops, “I’m just an honest business man making an honest buck taking private money from private students! I give everyone a chance! Not like those public universities!” The figure of the for-profit educator is portrayed standing astride the world like John Gault out of Ayn Rand’s novels, just an honest entrepreneur transforming the world, alone and strong.
All lies of course. Let’s examine those lies.
Reality: Over 90% of all the money received by the for-profit universities is taxpayer money. Why? Because it is Pell Grants, State Grants, and Federally backed student loans. And the vast majority of the student loan defaults are from the for-profit so-called “universities.” So no. They aren’t taking private money. They are stealing public money at arm’s length through intermediaries they con.
Reality: Tuitions at for-profit universities are much higher than they are at not-for-profit universities. Anyone with half a brain can see that this has to be true. Education is expensive to deliver and hard to evaluate. Under the best of results, the only way to make a profit is to be more expensive. We have seen tuition costs skyrocket in both public and private not-for-profit universities as state support has been cut. Sometimes this is pointed to as a “proof” that everything is out of control. Reality is much different. Public university subsidized low tuition cost controls how much the private universities can ask for. So it was popular with the hoity-toity private not-for-profits like Harvard, Stanford, etc. to have state support go away. Because that allowed them to charge more. But the for-profits? Dear god. They are even higher.
Reality: The for-profits like University of Phoenix don’t give anybody a “chance.” Wayne State University takes the University of Phoenix demographic (minus deliberate recruitment of alcoholic homeless living under freeways) and educates them. How do they do that? The educators at Wayne State are legendary for working hard at educating. Some schools take the “cream of the crop” and get by doing a lousy job educating. But Wayne State buckles down and does what they have to do. They graduate at the national average and a bit above.
Compare what Wayne State does to University of Phoenix. University of Phoenix collects all the Pell Grant money they can get their greedy hands on. Then they get the student to take on debt that in less than a year can amount to over $25,000. Then they let them drown. That “chance” was a con and it leaves the conned student without eligibility for more Pell Grants. It leaves the student holding the bag on a loan they can’t possibly pay.
Conclusion: Richard Sperling is guilty of putting together a system dedicated to fleecing the taxpayers and fooling everyone. The real question is why he and the rest of them haven’t been prosecuted, stripped of their ill-gotten gains and imprisoned for long terms at hard labor. But then, we live in the era of the spineless generation who are too stupid and gutless to call criminal activity what it is. Sperling spreads the billions he got from the Federal Treasury around. Politicians today are not like the politiicians of the WWII generation.
Even Ronald Reagan put Jackie Presser in prison – after Presser delivered the union votes to Reagan that probably put him over the top into the White House. This president, as those who follow my blog know, has run the White House as the protection arm of the gangsters of banking who continue to rob us blind.
I’ll close by calling Richard Sperling what he is. Evil. What he has done to hundreds of thousands of poor who came to him expecting to get a real shot, only to find themselves bankrupted and shut out of any future chance is evil. That he did that in order to pick the pocket of the taxpayer to net himself billions is evil. That man is evil and he has no business walking the streets. He and everyone who helped him should be put in prison.
1. When I TA’d during my doctorate at a major public university, I advised quite a few students to do as much as they could at a community college or 4-year university because they just weren’t getting what they needed. Many of the name universities are not very good at education. (But compared to University of Phoenix, even the worst of them are fantastic.)