Saturday, February 27, 2016

Campus Criminality: 40% of Debtors Weren’t Educated About Loans

By Professor Doom

    Time and again I’ve claimed that many of our institutions of higher education, whether state, non-profit, or for-profit, are basically scams that exist only to suck students in, fleece them of their student loan money, and spit them out.

     I’ve backed up my claims with extensive documentation, from community colleges run almost completely fraudulently (yes, I know there are exceptions), to for-profits run almost completely fraudulently (yes, I know there are exceptions), to non-profits run almost completely fraudulently (yes, I know there are exceptions). All fully accredited, of course.

     In every case, students are being lured in, signed up for huge loans, usually for irrelevant if not outright bogus coursework, then emerge from school 4 to 6 years later with a gigantic debt and no clue how they were suckered. Although schools must promise to act with integrity and follow the law before being granted by (questionable at best) accreditation the right to suck up loan money, I’ve asserted and shown many times that administration seldom, if ever, lets integrity get in the way of those sweet, sweet, student loan checks. Admin is only slightly more careful about following the law, but not if it gets in the way of those checks.

     Allow me to present one more source of documentation of just how criminal our campuses are today. A recent book, College Financial Aid: Highlighting the Small Print of Student Loans makes the very credible claim that at least 40% of student borrowers either don’t receive any counseling or have no idea if they received any such counseling

      There are two issues here. The first, the one I do tend to harp on, is integrity. These kids come right out of high school, and like sheep they file on to college campus…and administration is right there, not content merely to shear the sheep, but  to slaughter them. Not to put too fine a point on it, but taking advantage of the young and ignorant is not acting with integrity. It would take almost no effort for an accreditor (using a tiny part of the accreditation fees collected) to survey students after they take out their loans and ask them about that counseling. If students could not demonstrate they knew what was going on with their own student loans, then the accreditor could withdraw accreditation from the institution, and the loans annulled (as most should be)…no more victims. That would require accreditation to be legitimate, however, so this is just pure fantasy on my part, may as well move on to the reality of the other issue.

      The other issue is it’s illegal to sign up students for debt without this sort of counseling. We pay college administrators huge fortunes in annual salary, 4 to 10 times as much as we pay the professors…and they can’t be bothered to follow even this basic part of the law. Well, of course not, following the law would cut into growth and those sweet student loan checks, and so, much like integrity (and academic standards, for that matter), it’s not going to happen.

     It’s part of federal law that students taking on Federal debt are supposed to get counselling…but it doesn’t happen. Our institutions of higher education, many of them, have been behaving in this criminal manner for years…and yet somehow it never makes the news, and never have I seen a Poo Bah hauled away in handcuffs for this criminal behavior. 

     This is no surprise, as our campuses act so criminally, so often, that this latest demonstration is hardly meaningful. Let’s have a quick review about just how criminal our campuses are nowadays, in addition to this criminality.

     While one can disregard my rants, or disregard the previous book, it’s worth pointing out another study: 

The study also found that 28% of students with federal loans said they had no federal debt, and 14% said they didn't have any student debt at all.

     Imagine, students signed up for loan money, and the money transfers into administrative loan pockets so quickly the student doesn’t even know about it. When multiple sources make more or less the same allegations, it seems like someone in authority would look into it.

Me: “Once again I see on the contact information list for my students, I have a number of students that, apparently, intend to drive 4 or more hours to, and from, my class, at least three times a week. Are you sure these students aren’t just signing up for the free Pell checks?”

Admin: “They have a right to come here.”

Me: “Can we at least tell them the course I’m teaching is a basic course offered on every other campus in the country, and suggest to them to sign up for a closer campus? Not having to drive so much would give them far more time for studying, and that would help them.”

Admin: “If they want to come here, we let them come here.”

---I really did try to see if admin cared the tiniest bit about the students. No, they don’t.

     Let me also point out another source that says our campuses are often criminal operations. A “Pell Runner” is a student that signs up, usually at a cheap community college, for purposes of getting his Pell Grant “refund.” The refund is the difference between the grant, and the cost of tuition. You can score perhaps $1,000 or so every semester this way. Across the country we have Pell Runners that go from campus to campus. Administration isn’t paid enough to keep records on this.

      Approximately 25% of the students in some states are Pell Runners…and once again we have the same thing being said about how our institutions “gather” students. In the community college I helped to get accredited, it was common to see classes that were clearly 40% or more Pell Runners, and when you have community colleges with 0.6% graduation rates, I again feel what I saw with my own eyeballs was pretty common.
     Faculty, of course, can do nothing about the fraudsters. Our “success” as faculty is measured by retention, keeping students on the roster. If we try to get rid of fraudsters, it cuts into our retention numbers…and we get fired. 

     Anyone who dares to look can see immense fraud going on in many of our institutions. All too often the finger of blame is pointed at faculty. I concede we as faculty do share some of the blame, but we sure pay all the price, with minimal job security and often sub-minimum wages. Meanwhile, the administrators who (at least nowadays) hold most of the blame for the fraud…just get paid more and more to hurt our kids, and no matter how explosively the fraud is revealed, they never pay a price at all.








Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How Universities Squelch Investigation

By Professor Doom

     Many university campuses have huge, long-running, scandals involving fraud; I’ve highlighted quite a few of these in this blog, and the common line of “after more than 10 years of claims by whistleblowers…” that appears in these scandals really begs the question: why do these scandals take so long before becoming public knowledge?

Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.

    Let’s start eliminating the impossible sources of information on a scandal. A campus has administration (and staff), faculty, and students.

    Let’s start with admin. Most of the scandals start pretty high up. The Poo Bah, and Board of Trustees, know full well that the $100,000,000 building going up will only cost $20,000,000 to build, and the rest will get spent on kickbacks, mostly to construction and vending firms owned by Trustees, or something similar. Higher education has been in a building boom for many years now…anyone with half a brain knows this level of building makes no sense, considering how much coursework has been moved online. I’ll use the madcap building spree as an example for this post, but sex scandals and academic frauds work pretty much the same way.

      Does the gentle reader really suppose the $1,000,000 salaries and perks Poo Bahs get, combined with slightly lower salaries for their coterie of sycophants, really is because these people are amazing? No, it’s payment to keep quiet. Being in on it, it’s a rare thing indeed to find a whistleblower admin (so rare I can’t even find a decent link).

     Faculty? We’re dead meat on campus now. Faculty that “make waves” get fired quickly, without due process (assuming they’re even technically entitled to it, administration will simply ignore such rules). Yes, you can find whistleblower faculty, but these guys are usually fired quickly enough that they have no recourse, or harassed to the point that resigning is the only option, rather than endure further abuse (I know that’s why resigning was my best choice when I figured out that my community college was not just engaging in fraud, but nobody had any interest in thinning it down a little). Even when the rules are violated over such firings, there’s no hope: such complaints go directly to admin. Admin investigates itself, and invariably clears itself of wrongdoing. Sometimes faculty fight for over a decade, sometimes winning, but you hardly can blow the whistle when you‘re forced to fight for your survival as it is.

      Fired faculty have no pull—now they’re just “disgruntled employees” and get their character assassinated quite thoroughly. It does no good for faculty to try to reveal frauds on campus, as Penn State, UNC, and frankly every other scandal shows.
      Admin won’t reveal the frauds, faculty can’t.

      Now comes students. Most students don’t really care to ask about the why the new buildings are going up, and are in no position to have a clue. That’s most. A few students do know, for a variety of reasons. Among those, a few figure out that the best way to make the fraud known is go to the papers.

      The mainstream or even local papers aren’t going to listen to a student. It’s sad, but it’s a fact: there is no investigative journalism any more. The papers are barely scraping by as it is, and they’re not going to risk a major lawsuit from the school if they try to do anything. Local TV is a joke, all they do is read from the script. No hope there, either.

     Most campuses, however, have a school newspaper. These papers aren’t widely distributed, mind you, but they’re run mostly by the students, with faculty oversight. The whole point of school newspapers is to allow journalism students ( never really understood why this is a major, but bear with me) to learn how to run a paper.

      If you think admin is going to let even the school paper get away with publicizing the kind of frauds occurring on campus, well…no. Consider:

   The issue of course was that the paper was running negative articles about the university…it didn’t matter that the paper was winning awards for investigative journalism, administration doesn’t care about that. Gee, you’d think an administration would be proud that the students were winning awards…as always, admin will throw academics under a bus to save themselves.

     Across the country, however, these long-running scandals are starting to bubble up into the light. Mainstream media won’t touch it, but the student newspapers, with little to fear in the way of lawsuit retaliation will, even if they get their funding pulled for running negative stories. What’s happening at the previous university is happening everywhere else: faculty advisors that allow the student papers to reveal even a fraction of the fraud are being taken out, and replaced with lapdogs who will toe the party line:

At least half a dozen student newspaper advisers have been removed from their roles in the last year for what they believe to be similar reasons, including at Auburn University, Fairmont State University and Northern Michigan University.

     And so one more way for the truth of what’s happening in higher education gets shut down. The administrative choke hold is all but complete now: nothing can stop their degradation of higher education, and soon, only a few blogs and specialist news sites will even be able to cover much beyond the most obvious failings. Today, this system is regularly producing scandals that ran for a decade or more before being revealed, and if admin has their way, higher education will soon be a system that scandals, open scandals known by thousands, that run for 40 years or more will become commonplace.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Cats and Education

By Professor Doom

     Anyone teaching in higher education a few decades comes to the conclusion that something is going wrong. There’s a clear trend of enstupidation of our children. It’s not our imagination, as simply reviewing old tests, even old textbooks, shows that the material we cover in class today simply isn’t on the same level of a few decades ago.

     I’ve blamed Education, that field of study which, laughably, claims to strive to improve human learning, despite their endless array of massive failures, most lately being Common Core (ok, it hasn’t failed yet, but there won’t be much surprise when it does).

      Turns out, I could be wrong. Oh, Education is irrelevant at the very least, no question about that, but a reader sent me a video discussing Pottenger’s Cats. It’s only 15 minutes, and worth a view.

      I’ll summarize. Pottenger was experimenting, like actual scientists do, and noticed that the cats (accidentally) being fed raw meat were markedly healthier than the cats being fed cooked meat. So, he scrapped his original experiment, and designed new experiments around the hypothesis:

“Does the cooking process somehow render food nutritionally deficient?”

     Unlike the utterly untestable hypotheses that seem to dominate “science” today (I may need to talk about this soon), this is the sort of thing a real scientist can answer, probably. It’s a simple matter to just vary the diet of the cats, using either cooked or raw meat, or raw or pasteurized milk (or other processed options). 

     Naturally, we’re just talking about cats here, and so the results may not apply to humans…but the results are noteworthy.

      First, the cats fed processed milk had clear physiological differences—dental deterioration was clear, and the cats, when tossed, were even hard pressed to land on their feet (I don’t even know if such an experiment would be allowed today, since it’s obviously cruel to the cats…). The cats fed raw milk were nothing like the sluggish, sickly cats.

     It’s particularly disturbing watching a “raw milk” cat get into a fight with a “processed milk” cat…the latter appears to move in slow motion compared to catlike speed (hey, that used to be a cliché) of the healthy animal.

      Now, all the cats were selected to be healthy at the beginning of the study, but the ones with the processed food diet clearly sickened over time. Fair enough, an interesting result.

      Now comes the amazing part of the study.

     As these cats bred, the sickened cats passed on their weakness to the next generation…by the third generation, the skeletal deformities are unarguable, and there couldn’t even be a fourth generation, because the cats were so sickened by a cooked meat diet. 

      And it gets even more amazing.

      To bring the second generation “processed food” cats back to health, it wasn’t simply a matter of returning to a healthy diet. No. It took four generations of feeding the cats properly before the cats that had the bad diet in the past were indistinguishable from cats that were fed proper (cat) food all along. The experiment ran for 10 years, to give an idea of how long it took to show this.

     As a final insult to injury, after the experiment site was abandoned…the very weeds in the “healthy” food pens were far more robust than the sickly weeds in the processed food pens.

     Unlike modern science, which has a real problem with many experimental results that can’t be replicated, this old experiment was corroborated with similar experiments (although, I admit, never perfectly replicated). I grant that there are some issues with the experiment, and it’s really bizarre about the weeds: could it just have been bad luck that the soil for the “processed” cats had high levels of lead or arsenic in it? It’s impossible to say, and cats are not people in any event.

       Nevertheless, as I watch, from one generation to the next, a clear degeneration of our children’s mental ability, could it be that I’m wrong about blaming government schools and Education? Could the soaring rates of autism and a few other diseases not be due to vaccines, but instead is just the latest generational symptom of our insidiously bad diet? Well, maybe.

      I grant that the Amish (with a relatively stable diet the last few centuries, for obvious reasons) don’t seem to have the epidemic of debilitating diseases affecting the “standard” American, so I suppose there’s something to the theory even if the experiment has issues. I’m not saying we all should eat raw meat and drink raw milk (it’s weird how the government hates raw milk, however), but, I do concede we as a people need to start eating healthier. It kind of bugs me that I’m well past double the age of my students (even triple for a few of them), and yet seem to be more physically fit than many of them (and I’m not a health nut, not by a long shot). In addition, way more students are declaring/documenting themselves as mentally disabled (and thus entitled to extra breaks) than when I started in higher education. I’ve gone from sometimes having 1 disabled student a semester to now typically having 8 disabled students a semester, over the last 30 years.

     Some might say there’s a conspiracy going on, but we don’t really need that here. Corporations make our food, and corporations care about one thing and one thing only: profit. I’m not saying this to slander corporations, I say it with the same hostility as I might say “mosquitoes suck blood.” It just so happened that processing food means less waste, and that means more profit; a corporation simply is incapable of caring if its food eventually kills the customers (cf, the tobacco industry).

Typical gerbil litter: 6

Typical number of baby gerbils that survive on purified water: 5

Number of gerbils that survived when I gave them tap water instead: 1

--I used to have pet gerbils. This is not exactly a scientific experiment, but I do think one should be careful giving tap water to the young, rodent or otherwise. I mostly drink bottled or filtered water now. Obviously.

     Anyway, maybe I’m wrong, and the enstupidation of our children is not due to the Educationist claptrap, and is simply the result of our poor diet. The gentle reader should seriously work to provide his children with healthy food…it’s not that hard to make lunches out of apples and raw vegetables, at the very least.

     And keep the kids away from Educationist theory. Just to be sure.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Starving Colorado Professors Get Raise: $5 A Week.

By Professor Doom

     I’ve written before of the situation for most college professors in Colorado. They’re paid sub-poverty wages, and the laws/hiring are manipulated so that there’s no legal violation in doing so, even to the point of cutting their hours to avoid Obamacare—it really is curious how our Left-leaning campuses don’t support Leftist policies when it’s their own pocketbook being raided.

     Let me recycle one quote that really sums up the Colorado system that “can’t afford” to pay the professors even minimum wage:

“…in order to keep the administrative class afloat, this is the reality for me and for my peers. Our college system, for example, has hired two new administrators per day for the past three years…Its financial profile is rated at the top of the scale by the metrics of Standard and Poor’s or Moody’s, as a revealed in a recent analysis of CCCS finances conducted by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).”

     All the money flowing into higher education has done the students no good—our $1.3 trillion dollars of student loan debt can attest to that. It’s also done nothing for the workers in higher education, who find their pay frozen for twenty years or more, if they’re lucky, and in most cases pay has been reduced, much reduced.

     I understand that most workers have had their pay frozen, that the strife for higher education professors is reflected in most every profession nowadays. That said, it really is disturbing watching all the administrators drive to campus in shiny new cars, and watching glittering administrative palaces go up even when enrollment falls, while the professors go down to the food banks (which, in Colorado, actually specialize in helping professors, because there are so many starving professors). 

     Time and again I have heard expensive-suited administrators bleat about how education is worth any price, that students shouldn’t worry about the debt they’re taking on for the cost of tuition, because having an education leads to a high paying job.

     Our college professors are the most educated class of citizenry…and many of us are starving to death on the wages those obscenely overpaid administrators (who themselves often have minimal, if any, education) give us, based on that “valuable” education.

      The situation is really bad in Colorado, where faculty begged to be given a raise, a raise in a system that is flush with cash and has no trouble hiring yet another $150,000 a year Diversity Vice President on a twice-a-day basis even as it wouldn’t dream of paying a faculty member $30,000 a year…no money for the latter, you see.

      Committees were formed, and determined that, yes, it was about time for a faculty pay raise, to the tune of 28% (keep in mind, many administrators get pay raises on the order of 10% a year, so 28%, once every 20 years, is hardly excessive).

      Administration, always eager to say how precious education is, revealed their true colors at the thought of paying educated people:

Officials balked, saying the "current political environment" made such a hike unfeasible…administrative salaries have skyrocketed in recent years, along with major building campaigns on several of the 41 campuses operated by the state's thirteen community colleges…

     Take it from a veteran of state community colleges, they really are a cornucopia of opportunities for fraud, and actively support incompetence. Spend a few million on a building, pay for it with bonds…and most of it goes directly into administrative (or trustee) pockets in the form of kickbacks, and the system is set up so that you almost never can follow the paper trail (there are a few exceptions that give some idea of what goes on).

     Still, some administrators got tired of watching the faculty starve to death, and so deigned to let them have a little something. And we’re talking little:

(the above is a poster distributed protesting the meager pay raise. Snowflake photo

    That’s right, folks, the faculty beg for their first pay raise this millenium, admin looks down from a table loaded with foie gras stuffed lobster…and deigns to give them almost $5 a week more. That’s a few cans of beans, at least, but I really feel if educators had some influence over this system, there would have been something a bit more equitable.

     Seriously, $200 million for a college sportsball stadium isn’t much of a problem for the Colorado education system, but paying college professors even a starvation level wage is just too tough for administrators.

      No money, you see. Too bad. Better luck 20 years from now.