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College For All, Profit For Some

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This is an excellent statement. There is a lack of competent people with technical skills. However, an expert carpenter told me that even though he makes a good living, he is subject to snobbery by people in bureaucratic jobs.Some years ago when I was teaching executives at Ford, the CEO of a large dealership reported that it was hard to find a good mechanic while applicants lined up for a job in accounting, even though the mechanic's job had double the salary. Part of the problem is lack of respect for these technical jobs.

That's a fine and honestly-expressed policy notion that lies unstated behind much of the re-regulation of the sector. But the for-profit colleges are simply responding to the higher education policy that has been in place for the last 50 years. Even still the president is calling for more access. This is what access looks like. (And by the way it looks exactly the same at state-subsidized community colleges.) It is fine to acknowledge that the pendulum has swung too far, but is it necessary to demonize for-profit schools at the same time? Have an honest discussion about the costs and benefits of higher ed policy and then pursue a common direction that governs all types of institutions.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testifies before Congress, warning the nation that over 80 percent of schools will fail the No Child Left Behind law. Yet the American Federation of Teachers is worried about postsecondary access, the promise of a four-year degree, and the gap between what private sector colleges and universities say and do? Perhaps if Esther Quintero would do a little homework herself she’d find that over 50 percent of PSCU awards are certificates, not four year degrees. PSCUs provide a valuable entry point to a vast array of jobs and careers. Our programs are also the first academic success that many students have ever enjoyed. Too often, PSCU education must fill in the blanks rather than building on the foundations students have attained in high school. Is it an epiphany that not everyone needs or wants a four-year college degree? Hardly. But before casting the next stone, visit one of our schools and talk to our students. About high school, college, and the value of gaining a postsecondary credential. It might be a learning experience.

Unfortunately, employers help perpetuate this idea by requiring degrees for all kinds of jobs, many of which really don't need them. Also, the only thing a degree can absolutely say with certainty is that someone spent a certain amount of time and money at a particular place (and nothing more). This is no guarantee of fitness for employment, merely a way to thin out a stack of resumes. In the process, education is devalued, rendering it little more than an expensive union card.

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