Mike the Mad Biologist

Certainly, you shouldn’t when the topic is education ‘reform.’ Some snarky bloggers refer to The Washington Post as the Kaplan Test Prep Company, since most of the Post’s profits come from the KTPC, not the newspaper (both of which are owned by the Washington Post Company). Well, any claims The Washington Post might want to make about ethics or morality (not to mention for-profit education) should be utterly ignored:

Though Kaplan is not the largest in the industry, the Post Company chairman, Donald Graham, has emerged as the highest-profile defender of for-profit education.

Together, Kaplan and the Post Company spent $350,000 on lobbying in the third quarter of this year, more than any other higher-education company. And Mr. Graham has gone to Capitol Hill to argue against the regulations in private visits with lawmakers, the first time he has lobbied directly on a federal issue in a dozen years.

His newspaper, too, has editorialized against the regulations. Though it disclosed its conflict of interest, the newspaper said the regulations would limit students’ choices. “The aim of the regulations was to punish bad actors, but the effect is to punish institutions that serve poor students,” Mr. Graham said in an interview.

Nice conflict of interest ya got there. But this is truly galling part:

But many current and former Kaplan employees and students — including those, like Mr. Wratten, not involved in the lawsuits — said in interviews that they believed the company was concerned most with getting students’ financial aid, and that Kaplan’s fast-growing revenues were based on recruiting students whose chances of succeeding were low.

They cite, for example, a training manual used by recruiters in Pittsburgh whose “profile” of Kaplan students listed markers like low self-esteem, reliance on public assistance, being fired, laid off, incarcerated, or physically or mentally abused.

Melissa Mack, a Kaplan spokeswoman, said the manual had not been used since 2006.

Admissions advisers, past and present, say the pressure to recruit students leads to aggressive, and sometimes misleading, sales tactics.

Nice business model. For the slow morality group: decent and good people never consider preying on the abused.

Ethical rot starts from the top. The Graham family makes most of their money scamming vulnerable people, while, at the same time, in the name of ‘fiscal responsibility’, opposing policies that would actually help them (i.e., policies that raise wages, job creation).

And the next time you read a Washington Post editorial about education reform (or student loan reform), remember that the owners of the Post care very little about students–what matters is what they do, not what they write. Consider the source.

Like Brad DeLong, I await the Washington Post’s demise.

Comments

  1. #1 becca
    November 11, 2010

    Ok, the conflict of interest is pretty ridiculous. Still, why might they target that particular demographic? Because those people are too dumb to know test prep is a scam? Or because those people have been SO poorly served by the educational system that short-term cramming and test taking finesse helps them excel?
    I’m reminded of an editorial that said, with real pride, that Teach for America teachers led to greater increases in test scores- ‘despite’ being in such disadvantaged schools. My immediate, albeit cynical, thought was ‘it might be way easier to bring 20th percentiles to 50th, than 69th to 99th’.

  2. #2 Kaleberg
    November 11, 2010

    Is it time for another blogger ethics conference?

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