March 31, 2014


Which For-Profit College Lobbyist Are You?. . .Predatory for-profit colleges use deceptive and coercive tactics to pressure students into signing up. More than half of for-profit college students drop out within about four months. Although the for-profits promise that their programs are affordable, the real cost of some schools can be nearly double that of Harvard. And graduates often struggle to find jobs beyond shifts at Office Depot. The U.S. Department of Education just reported that 72 percent of the for-profit college programs it analyzed produced graduates who on average earned less than high school dropouts. As a result, today, 13 percent of all college students attend for-profit colleges, on campuses and online — but these institutions account for 47 percent of student loan defaults. It’s not just students who are harmed. For-profit colleges get more than $30 billion a year in federal student grants and loans; many get almost 90 percent of their revenue from federal aid. When a student defaults on a federal loan, taxpayers must foot the bill; the for-profit college already has been paid.  Huffington Post

Sheppard Air Force Base: Uncounted Costs of Privatizing Government Services. . .In fact, there are very good reasons why government cannot operate properly when it is run like a business, says Forbes contributing writer John T. Harvey. He notes, “We should no more want the government to be run like a business than a business to be run like the government. … The problem in a nutshell, is that not everything that is profitable is of social value and not everything of social value is profitable.” Harvey’s observations on privatization, published by capitalist tool Forbes Magazine, clearly have been lost on the Department of Defense, which has been a major user of contractors.  Truth-Out

IN: Public-private plan for I-69 work proves divisive. Gov. Mike Pence is getting ready to sign onto a deal with a Dutch-led contractor to construct and maintain the section between Bloomington and Martinsville. Under terms of that contract, the state would make an $80 million “down payment” to the private partner, which would pay the $325 million estimated for construction. Once that section of highway is complete, the state starts paying the partner $21.8 million a year for 35 years and the company maintains the highway. . . Supporters say the public-private partnership is innovative, but critics say the deal will end up costing Indiana taxpayers more in the long run. . . “It’s a quick easy fix for government that can’t afford to build and maintain the roads that people want. By at least getting it out there, the question is, is that fair to the next generation? We have pushed off the burden to future generations, years beyond what we would be normally paying,” said Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington.

NY: State Protections for Charter Schools Threaten de Blasio’s Education Goals. Mayor Bill de Blasio has mapped out an ambitious agenda for education in New York City. He wants to reinvigorate schools on the verge of shuttering, open 100 schools with health clinics and therapists at their core, and train more students for careers in science and technology. But the budget deal announced by state leaders on Saturday, which would require the city to find space for charter schools, may cut into Mr. de Blasio’s priorities. Charter schools, which serve about 6 percent of students citywide, are poised to expand significantly in New York over the next several years, potentially attracting as much as 10 percent of students by 2017, according to education advocates. And it is up to the state — not the city — to approve any new charter schools, leaving Mr. de Blasio virtually powerless to stop their growth. New York Times

CT: Bob Horton: Private influence on public parks. . .When the Parks Department presented its proposed budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, it included more than $400,000 for the renovation of Greenwich Commons, the park just north of the Havemeyer Building on Greenwich Avenue. That project seemingly came out of nowhere, and when finance board members asked Parks and Recreation Director Joseph Siciliano why it had suddenly risen near the top of the list, he answered that a private donor whom he would not identify had committed $250,000 to the work. Plus, I understand the private donor was hoping to ban soccer or any other ball playing on the field as a condition of the gift. It is not unreasonable of donors to put conditions on gifts, but when it affects public spaces, uses should not be subject to private whims. Greenwich Time