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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

A Conversation With Heidi Weber - For Profit Whistleblower

Category: Education
Posted: 10/29/14 23:50, Edited: 10/30/14 01:48

by Dave Mindeman

I hope everyone got a chance to read the City Pages article today...

John Kline's Descent From Patriot to For-Profit College Bodyguard

Finally, someone in the media encapsulized the John Kline effect on the For Profit College industry.

But let me follow this up with something related. Today I had a pleasant telephone conversation with Heidi Weber. For those of you who don't quite remember the name, Heidi is the former Globe University educator who blew the whistle on Globe's deceptive recruiting practices. A Star Tribune article summed it up this way....

Heidi Weber, who became dean of the medical assistant program in February 2010, alleges that she was fired for repeatedly raising concerns about the school paying its admissions employees commissions based on enrollment, publishing incorrect job placement figures and not providing students adequate training at medical sites, such as clinics.

That article was published in 2012...since then, Heidi won her lawsuit and was awarded backpay and damages. But as is the usual process, Globe has managed to tie this case up in appeals and legal maneuvers. Obviously, they hired attorneys that never went to any of their colleges.

But Heidi Weber continues to make her case against these For Profit charlatans....and despite her legal success and bringing these recruiting practices out of the shadows, Globe and the many similar For Profit Colleges in this country, continue with business as usual.

And it really is about business - not education. Heidi contends that a muzzle is put on the education part of these colleges. Well intentioned educators do the best they can to prepare students but have little to no control over curriculum, accreditation, class size, or recruitment practices.

Heidi Weber would not have known how bad it was if she hadn't been doing her job of educating so well. Quickly promoted from Professor to Dean of the Medical Assistant program, she ended up with an executive position that gave her an office at Globe's main headquarters - which happened to be next to the recruiting office. What she heard there gave her pause. And soon she realized that what was happening was just plain wrong and unfair.

Knowing she was risking her job, she set out on a quest to get the ear of those in positions of power at the school. What she got in return was a pink slip. This happened shortly after she had been given an excellent performance review and a raise.

Heidi Weber's story attracted the attention of Congress. California Democratic Representatives Susan Davis and Mark Takano brought her to Washington and listened to her story. What Heidi told them re-enforced other reports. They fashioned a fix to some of the For Profit College exploitation by making GI Bill student loans count toward the 90/10 rule. (Which states that no more than 90% of your student loans can come from government sources. For Profits have skirted that rule by emphasizing GI loans which are exempt.) These representatives crafted the bill and then presented it to the Education and Workforce Committee; however Chairman John Kline simply gavelled it down as "not germane" - and then he got a party line vote to agree, which killed it.

Another factor that Heidi mentioned is that the For Profit Colleges oversee their own accreditation. When Heidi Weber was Dean of Medical Assisting, she worked with employers in the area to find a curriculum that would suit their needs. After Heidi left, this curriculum management was eliminated. All resources were diverted to recruiting new students and the educators were left to fend for themselves. I would imagine some educators still try to make their course material relevant, but they are not supported by the administration.

The For Profits don't follow the same policies that involve public institutions. Instead of coordinating with public policy, the For Profits work with their own accreditation committee which is staffed by their own members. Jeannie Herman is President of Globe University and Chairs the Accreditation Committee. She has NO EDUCATION BACKGROUND. She has degrees in Psychology and Entrepeneurship.

Heidi Weber is still optimistic that these problems will eventually get fixed. She believes that as all the facts come out, the problem will get addressed. The public evidence is overwhelming. In her mind, it would be wrong not to get this done.

I wish I shared her optimism. Unfair recruitment continues unabated. For Profits continue to fight and delay lawsuits. They still have shareholders that get supported. And they continue to get a disproportionate share of Federal Student Loans - which lead to record defaults
Heidi Weber believes in her cause. She feels confident that, in the end, the right things will happen. She gives you a hopeful feeling.

But my hope would increase much more if the Congressional guardian of these faux colleges, Congressman John Kline, was not the one in charge.
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Education Is An Aggregate Voting Issue

Category: Education
Posted: 10/28/14 16:06

by Dave Mindeman

There was a poll (yes, another poll) done on what people think of education issues and All-Day Kindergarten didn't top the list...

According to a poll released Tuesday by the advocacy organization MinnCAN, all-day-K is the education issue they're least likely to consider as they head to the polls. At the top of their lists are overall school funding, teacher quality, class size and curriculum and standards, the poll found.

The article's author found that surprising...

It's surprising to hear that all-day-K isn't polling as high as a number of more obscure issues because DFL canvassers are relentless in talking to voters about the shift, which took place this fall.

OK - before we start drawing conclusions here, let's think about this for a minute. And especially this part of the demographic....

Sixty percent do not have children living at home.

OK - 60% don't have kids at home. Then there is the high probability that only a few per cent of the remainder actually have a kindergartner in the household.

But I guarantee you, the per cent that have a kindergarten child consider it a very HIGH issue in their household.

And furthermore, all day kindergarten is a big factor in improving education for the future. It will take some time to have an effect, but early education experience always improves the quality of a child's education as they progress through the system. It is a proven fact and this policy change will make Minnesota a leader in future education achievement.

It will also help the achievement gap. Parents who have their 5 year olds in school not only benefit from the education, they also benefit from the early structure that the school day will bring. Younger African American and Native American kids get a chance to start on a more equal footing and again, that will have benefits down the line.

Polls take opinions on what is uppermost in a voters mind RIGHT NOW. They don't go to the polls thinking of education in a monolithic sense. They worry about the next bonding issue....or which classes will make their kids most college ready.

Education is a major issue for voters - but getting more specific than that is a fruitless exercise.
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Bulletproof Blankets

Category: Education
Posted: 06/10/14 23:20

by Dave Mindeman

Believe it or not, this is a disturbing picture...


It is called the Bodyguard Blanket.

It is bullet proof (in theory) and it is being marketed for your kids.

Selling points from the website:

1. Bodyguard blanket can be easily fastened around a child or adult, and is amazingly lightweight.

2. When seconds count, Bodyguard blanket can provide a quick, simple solution for maximum protection against a school intruder.

3. Bodyguard blanket can provide protection when used properly in many settings. These include, home, highway (cars and trucks), workplace, shopping center, amusement park, sporting event or any other location where people reside.

If we have come to the point where marketing bulletproof blankets for our kids going to school is acceptable....

then we have failed as a society.
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