Published on 2012/02/17
Fighting The Battle
The battle for proprietary education can be an exhausting one. Photo by William Heinrich.

I spent the last 42 years in the often maligned arena of proprietary education…yes, the for-profit group!

During those 42 years I fought hard for the proprietary sector. I stood my ground in meeting with traditional academia and feared not when professors asked me “shouldn’t you be in a class on ethics?”

I fought with governmental groups who have fought equally hard to see the proprietary sector destroyed—and they have come close to winning the battle.

Let me say a few words about why academics hate proprietary education so much. It is not that proprietary gets too great a percentage of Pell Grant money, but is the basic fight of the liberals versus the conservatives (or big business).

Proprietary education is a big business because we have been willing to offer only classes that are needed for entry-level jobs. We are big business in that we are willing to have open-door policies and to help all that came to us (isn’t that a liberal mantra?). We worked with businesses to meet their needs rather than offering programs that offered little job opportunities (can I say the number of jobs that await a Sociology or Psychology major with a newly earned Bachelor degree?).

Academia has said that we stole from students with little opportunity for jobs—what does a four-year degree in Sociology cost-with tuition, books and room and board? Is this not theft on academia’s part?

Proprietary education tried to come to academia, but we were turned away. Now the liberals in academia will shut out thousands of students who never took an SAT or were considered for acceptance. The state-run community college system is no better, with as few as 15 percent of their freshmen class ever graduating. The liberals in academia would rather see these non-traditional students remain on welfare, food stamps and the lot—so they become puppets of the liberal community.

It is probably best that I have left education for the business world for in the business world I can at least contribute to society without fighting a never-ending battle. I fought the good fight, but lost the battle!

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Readers Comments

Yancy Oshita 2012/02/17 at 9:41 am

My high regard for your 42 years of experience advancing higher education for all, Barri. Rather than a “liberal” vs. “conservative” issue, perhaps a different perspective is that proprietary schools bring more choices including improving outreach to underserved. While this may have caused a stir with some, it seems to have had a positive overall impact as I’m seeing more non-proprietary schools beef-up their program offerings and outreach inc. online learning (credit and non-credit), certificate programs, etc…while no school is perfect, all schools (whatever label) should pay less attention to their labels and more on solving how to help all Americans(esp. underserved) to improve their education and skills…

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