Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Zombie higher education

San Mateo Daily Journal
November 22 2011
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Letter: Zombie higher education?
November 22, 2011, 03:24 AM Letter
The student loan market is back in the news as it makes its relentless march to the $1 trillion mark. This crippling figure comes in the face of a decade of lost wages for middle class Americans, just as the housing-bubble people were supplementing a disappearing middle class with more debt. The allure of housing lay in the fact that we had never seen, in our history, national home prices fall, until they did in dramatic fashion.
The same cultural nostalgia for education in every respect has created a zombie higher education system that is now expanding like the mortgage market at the height of the housing bubble. This is a subject of increasing concern to the Obama administration, which remade the federal student loan program and is now proposing changes that may make it harder for the for-profit colleges to qualify.
In the five years since Congress deregulated online education, enrollments at for-profit colleges have nearly doubled. Six major corporations owning such institutions have enjoyed initial public offerings on Wall Street. Graduates of another for-profit school — a college nursing program in California — said that they received their diplomas without ever setting foot in a hospital. We have heard countless stories of people going to for-profits, only to land minimum wage jobs once they graduate. Just like the subprime debacle, many of these people will remain silent, and the market will pretend nothing is wrong.

Ted Rudow III, MA
Palo Alto

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