Blistering FRONTLINE Story on For-Profit Education Industry Features Chief Lobbyist Harris Miller

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Earlier this week, FRONTLINE explored the shady world of online, for-profit education. One of my favorite quotes relates to how this industry is milking the federal government as a "cash cow": "The taxpayers are essentially funding this industry; something like 75% of their revenue comes from federal grants and loans." According to FRONTLINE, "This is a subject of increasing concern to the Obama administration, which, last month, remade the federal student loan program, and is now proposing changes that may make it harder for the for-profit colleges to qualify."So, who's at the center of all this?  That's right, none other than our old pal, Harris Miller, last seen in 2006 calling Jim Webb a racist, misogynist, and anti-Semite. Here's a transcript from Part 3 of the FRONTLINE story with Miller:
We talked to the chief Washington lobbyist for the for-profit schools, Harris Miller.Frontline: "The industry has a black eye, has been struggling for credibility, why?
Harris Miller: "I don't think the industry has a black eye, I think [they] are doing very well, growing by 25% a year, 2.8 million students attending our schools. We have some challenges because there have been some allegations that everything is not perfect, I wish it were.
Frontline: "But what about the pressure of Wall Street to have them grow."
Harris Miller: "The pressure is to deliver a high education quality for their students. Our schools know that any time they step out of line, there's a huge risk and there's a large focus on compliance at all times, including on enrollment issues."
Yeah, right, I'm sure that's what Wall Street cares about regarding the for-profit education industry; not profit, but "education quality for their students." Uh huh.Anyway, Frontline then goes on to discuss the tremendous pressure put on recruiters to meet quotas, and how this "challenges anyone's integrity." The message in the industry is to create a "sense of urgency" among potential students, "Dig deep, get to their pain, get to what's bothering them, so that that way you can convince them that a college degree is going to solve all their problems."
It gets worse, though.