If there's one thing everyone should understand about ALEC and its relationship to corporations, it's this: ALEC exists to enable these corporations to thrive, profit, and steal from the pockets of government and individuals alike. The organization is a machine that first creates a crisis and then purports to solve it. Here's a perfect example of how they work, via Republic Report:
Republic Report has obtained a list of members of the ALEC Education Task Force as of July 2011, and it includes some of the largest players in the for-profit college industry:
- Washington Post Company-owned Kaplan, which is under investigation by at least four state Attorneys General, where 68 percent of college students drop out before graduating (the worst overall dropout rate of the top ten recipients of post-9/11 G.I. bill benefits), and whose previous CEO received a $76 million compensation package when he left.
- Bridgepoint Education, which is under investigation by at least six state Attorneys General, and which in 2009 spent more than $2000 per student on recruiting and only $700 per student on instruction. Of every 100 associate degree students who enrolled in Bridgepoint in 2008-09, 84 had dropped out by September 2010.
- Corinthian Colleges, which is under investigation by at least six state Attorneys General, where 66.5 percent of associate degree students drop out, and where 36 percent of students default on their loans within three years – the highest default rate of all publicly traded for-profit education companies.
- APSCU, the for-profit schools trade association, which hires expensive lobbyists like former Senator Trent Lott to pressure Congress, and works hand-in-hand with the House Republican leadership on bills to prevent bad actors in the industry from being held accountable for waste, fraud, and abuse. APSCU members include DeVry, ITT, ATI, Education Management Corp., Career Education Corp., and Mitt Romney favorite Full Sail University, as well as Kaplan, Bridgepoint, and Corinthian.
These affiliations between for-profit colleges and ALEC raise some serious questions.
You should read the entire article, but think about what these corporations do. They advertise themselves as a solution to the problem for people who need college degrees and do not have them. They sprung up and have thrived as more and more public colleges and universities are starved for funds and either have to reduce enrollments or cut back classes. Much of what DeVry and ITT do, for example, is provide a technical trade school education in tech and service areas, which were more widely available to community college students than they are today.
So if a college degree is the key to advancement, these companies are willing to sell you one along with some education for a lot of money, which you can go borrow as long as you understand that when you sign the documents borrowing the money, you agree to a very long period of indentured servitude in return.
ALEC stands at the ready with legislation in hand for these corporations to push to friendly legislators, as outlined in the report.
Even more disturbing, one of the companies named is Kaplan Higher Education, which is a Washington Post subsidiary, yet the Washington Post does not disclose that in its reporting on ALEC. In fact, Donald Graham, CEO of the Washington Post, lobbied hard against Congress' effort to regulate for-profit colleges:
And politically well-connected investors, including Donald E. Graham, chief executive of the Washington Post Company, which owns Kaplan, and John Sperling, founder of the University of Phoenix and a longtime friend of the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, made impassioned appeals.
Here's the thing. 2011 was the year that Congress worked to limit these colleges' access to federal loan funds. It also happens to be the year that colleges like Kaplan joined ALEC. It's just like hiring a lobbyist, only cheaper! As an added benefit, they didn't have to register like normal lobbyists would.
Mitt Romney, by the way, is a good friend to for-profit colleges, and they would very much like it if he were President. They're putting their money where their mouth is, too. Gosh, I wonder why?