By Professor Doom
When covering the fraud of higher education, I repeatedly get amazed by the systemic fraud at community colleges. Yes, universities totally have their scandals, but community colleges have all the scandals of universities…and then more. Part of this likely is because universities are set up as individual institutions—there is no one grand high Poo Bah that rules over, say, USF and UFS and FSU, or LSU and USL and SLU (yes, those are all acronyms of universities). On the other hand, community colleges are part of a system, a system that has been created from the top down to
student loan and grant money into administrative pockets provide low cost
education to citizens in individual states. Each university in a state is a
distinct entity, while the community colleges in a state can be controlled as a
Because community colleges are created by politicians, and not educators, there’s a heart of corruption there which seems to lead to community colleges being far more corrupt than they have any right to be.
In addition to the massive corruption, there’s another common theme: everyone on campus seems to know about it. When people tell me large conspiracy theories are impossible because there’s just no way that hundreds of people can keep their mouth shut, I need only recall a certain community college campus I was on, which supposedly had over a thousand students attending its night courses.
All these students, attending courses at night. And yet, anyone with eyeballs could see the parking lots were almost completely empty. Hundreds of people pretending to come to class, dozens of faculty pretending to hold class, and scores of administrators in bed in their mansions, paid for because they supposedly filled up those classes that everyone pretends exist.
And not a peep from anyone, not the fake students, not the abused faculty, and certainly not the very well paid administration. Over 1,000 people involved in the conspiracy, and nobody talked.
Ok, that’s not accurate. I alone complained (as a response to students complaining because I was actually holding class)…but it accomplished nothing, I was simply punished for it, “business” continued as usual, and what I had to say was squelched. I hold no illusion that my community college was special:
“…I had taught at the community college level for around 40 years. I have heard about what the administrators were doing in the district almost from the time I began teaching. One of the things I could never understand is why there were more than 20 administrators at a community college and many of them doing literally nothing but getting paid at least 3x what a professor makes. In all, there are something like 150 administrators throughout the district..”
--a community college professor from California
I really doesn’t take much to realize something wrong is going on. Like the professor above, I too was on a campus where administration grotesquely outnumbered faculty—because of growth, we needed more faculty, but we couldn’t hire more, because state rules capped the number of employees at the institution at 100. We had 27 faculty (we all met in one classroom), to give some idea of the numbers involved.
The retired professor continues:
One of the first things I heard about was how the district administrators would take brand new in-the-box computer home as soon as they came in. These computers were supposed to go to the different colleges for classrooms or for office personnel.
I suspect this type of plundering doesn’t occur as often nowadays. Not because administration has gained more integrity, but because they’re paid so much that looting computers is just small potatoes. Again, anyone with eyeballs can go look at the administrative parking lots and see vehicles that cost more than the homes that faculty live in.
I knew an administrator who was also a teacher. He told me that at one of the administrator's meetings he offered a suggestion. He was bluntly told, "You aren't being paid to make suggestions." I recall going to lunch with a department administrator one day. He told me that there is a lot of illegal maneuvering going on at the district office and he'd "...like to say something about it but it would mean my job."
I’ve often suggested that if just went back to having educators also perform administrative duties, there’d be less fraud. I make no assertion of utopia, but stories like the above make it very clear that educators really do see things differently than administrators.
It had constantly amazed me why the district office had to be on some of THE MOST EXPENSIVE REAL ESTATE IN THE COUNTRY. The district was offered land that was cheaper and in a better position more centrally located but they insisted on this place…
Again, I’ve covered quite a few real estate scandals. Once again, anyone with eyeballs can see administrative offices are positively palatial, and often in pricey locations (administrators would much rather spend the money on themselves than on education)…but nobody is in a position to do anything about it, much less even ask why administrators can’t have the “cubicle warehouse” accommodations that only the lucky faculty get (the unlucky faculty use the trunk of their car as office space).
I am appalled that more people who have retired haven't come forward to say something. There are many who know a lot more than I. In fact, one of my colleagues became a state legislator and later a U.S. Representative and never said anything.
It is interesting that more people who have retired from the system haven’t come forward to say something. It’s easy, for example, to find retired scientists that will explain global warming is a sham. Once your paycheck isn’t on the line, hey, suddenly telling the truth is easier, or so it would seem.
Of course, retiring from higher education is, um, problematic. How do you do that nowadays? If you have tenure, you need never retire, and if you don’t have tenure, chances are you’re not paid enough to ever be able to afford to retire.
The community college system doesn’t offer nearly as much opportunity for retirement as a university, so, once again, we have yet another reason for the wide open corruption that seems so much more common at community colleges.
Editor’s Note: Nearly all scandals in the public sector have something in common: Many good people look the other way in the face of abuses and even those who try to stop the corruption are confronted by a power structure...LACCD Faculty Senate leaders tried to blow the whistle and now expect retaliation from officials…
What, faculty that try to blow the whistle expect retaliation? Yeah, no kidding, I’ve experienced it and documented it enough times in my blog. Across the country, community colleges are looting and plundering away. It isn’t just that everyone on the inside can tell you of the frauds going on, anyone with eyeballs who chooses to look can see it for himself.
Is it still a fraud if everyone knows about it? Somehow, I suspect it is, since ultimately the tax dollars are being raised for education, and spent on fattening wallets of the people at the top. Fraud or no, there are plenty of open secrets on community college campuses today, as I’ve discussed before.