I've worked for a number of for-profits over the last few years. I currently am happily employed at a non-profit school that is very dedicated to academic rigor and supporting faculty over retention and working on the P-n-P (Pulse and Pell Grant) basis. And, I largely found fault with for-profits for the very reasons that are mentioned in this program. Unscrupulous recruiters, high debt incurred by students, and even student stories about getting As on blank Word files turned in, as well as being told by my employer to not worry about academic honesty because we were a business not an institution of higher learning--these are all reasons why I was not a good fit for the for-profit sector.
I will say, however, that there are some for-profits out there that have redeeming qualities and that offer students educational opportunities they wouldn't otherwise have. My problem today, though, is that Frontline didn't really focus on that in any real way. I know faculty at for-profits who hold ivy-league PhDs who are very ethical in how they teach and they don't bow down before the CEO if they don't keep their retention numbers up. So, despite the fact that I think Frontline did a good job in covering one side of the issue, they only covered one side.
One specific gripe? They didn't interview ANY faculty. The entire focus was on the investors and administration/CEO types. This is a gripe about both the interviewers and the folks representing the for-profits. Why not trot out faculty to show that you have a good base of folks who know what they are doing?
D's suggestion was initially that the faculty were probably too scared to talk to Frontline, but I think that there are obviously faculty out there who feel proud to say they work at UoP and Argosy and Grand Canyon, and so on (those were some of the schools they really focused on). Why not flaunt it if you got it? And, surely, there are faculty on the other side who have gripes about for-profits they worked for in the past (or still work for). Where were the New Faculty Majority and other faculty advocacy groups?
I know that my aggravation over this is in part that anger I have about the fact that one former CEO was giggling out of embarrassment about how much money he made in the for-profit and how it was far more than any traditional college/university professional ever made (I'm itching to know, because I know university presidents make a nice salary. It must have been high, as he couldn't bring himself to actually tell how much). Now, this fellow wasn't working 80 hours a week grading papers and doing all that other stuff that faculty do. While I'm sure he probably did have to field angry emails, I bet he also had an assistant to help. The fact that the for-profits are making huge quarterly profits on the back of faculty who are often way over-worked, underpaid, and who are not given any health benefits, retirement, or vacation time is part of why I'm angry. I'm sure that any students who saw the program assume faculty are making huge dollars and that we all have palm tree lined estates on the beach, like the investor in the program that they kept coming back to.
At any rate, that's all I've got right now. Or at least all I can put down on paper in a coherent fashion. I feel like while there were important things exposed about the recruiting and administration of such schools that in the end, it's those of us who are really trying to teach who will probably wind up bearing the brunt. We'll get more wise cracks about "couldn't you get a real teaching job?" and "oh, I wish I could sit in my PJs all day." I should be used to it by now, I guess.
Oh, another gripe? Many of the big name schools--Kaplan, AIU, Walden, Capella were not mentioned. Even ITT-tech and Devry were mentioned only in passing. Are we to assume they weren't able to dig up enough dirt on those schools? Some in that list have faced probation by regional accrediting bodies in recent years and some have had FBI raids on campuses. Those things seem to have been overlooked.
Anyone else watch it?