Thursday, April 28, 2016

University of Phoenix to be sold to private equity groups: Insiders float away on golden parachutes

Earlier this year, Apollo Education Group, owner of University of Phoenix, announced that it was in negotiations with three private equity funds to sell out for a little more than $1 billion.

Vistria, one of the potential buyers, is run by Martin Nesbitt, widely described as President Obama's best friend.  And that label is probably not hyperbole. Nesbitt was Obama's campaign manager for both his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, and Nesbitt now heads the Obama Foundation, which will oversee the construction of Obama's Presidential Library. Yes, Nesbitt may really be Obama's best friend.

Why is Apollo Education Group, a publicly traded company, selling out to three private equity groups? Perhaps because things aren't going well with the University of Phoenix, Apollo's principal asset.

In its heyday, UP enrolled almost half a million students and raked in more than a billion dollars a year in federal student aid money. UP's parent company was worth $16 billion, and its stock soared to $95 a share.

But times have changes. UP's enrollment has plummeted to less than 200,000, forcing it to close some campuses. In 2015, the Federal Trade Commission began investigating. Today the stock is trading at below $8 a share, and the company is worth less than 1/16 its peak value.

So the big boys decided  it was time to put some lipstick on their pig and sell it.  

And if the sale goes through, Apollo's insiders will do very well. According to a story appearing last month in the Arizona Republic, the sale would provide gold parachutes to several top executives:
  • Greg Cappelli, Apollo Education's CEO, would get $4.2 million in cash and $3.1 million in equity and other benefits.
  • Sean Martin, Apollo Education's General Counsel, would get $1.4 million in cash and $4.2 million in stock.
  • J. Mitchell Bowling, Chief Operating Officer, would get $1.5 million in cash and $1.8 million in stock.
  • Timothy Slottow, president of University of Phoenix, would get $2 million case and $717,000 in stock.
  • Gregory Iverson, Apollo Education's chief financial officer, would get almost a million in cash and $1.7 million in stock.
Not bad compensation for the guys who ran the University of Phoenix into the ground!

And who are the potential buyers? Three private equity groups are partnering to buy Apollo Education Group: Phoenix-based Najafi Companies; Apollo General Management (not affiliated with Apollo Education Group); and Chicago-based Vistria Group, founded and run by Obama's good friend, Martin Nesbitt. Tony Miller, who served as President Obama's Deputy Secretary of Education from 2009 to 2013, has been tapped to run the University of Phoenix operations.

But the deal may not go through. First of all, shareholders may not approve the sale. Schroders Global Recovery Fund, a British equity group, is Apollo Education's biggest shareholder. Schroders bought its stock when Apollo was worth about $3 billion, probably thinking Apollo's stock price would rise and it would make a killing.

Schroder doesn't want to sell to the private equity groups because it would suffer a huge loss.  The Schroders team said this: "We see the potential for multiple hundreds of percent of upside in Apollo’s stock from current levels over a period of years."  And Andrew Lyddon, Schroders' fund manager, said last January that Apollo Education has "had everything thrown at it, but we think it would be terrible for shareholders at this point if management were to capitulate.”

Earlier this week, the Apollo Education board issued a statement stating that a sale to the consortium "is in the best interests of shareholders" and indicated that it would explore the possibility of selling the University of Phoenix if the sale of Apollo Education doesn't go through. (Apparently, the board can sell the University of Phoenix without shareholder approval.)

I am not a "master of the universe" financial wizard. I can hardly balance my own checkbook. Nevertheless, I doubt whether this sale will ever be finalized. The opposition of the Schroders group may stop it--the folks would take a big haircut if Apollo Education sold out for only about $1 billion.

But apart from this challenge, I think there is a growing awareness that the for-profit college industry is ceasing to be a good investment for private equity groups. People made a killing in this racket a few years ago, but students are becoming more sophisticated than they once were and enrollments are dropping. Moreover, public universities now offer an array of online degree programs that once made the University of Phoenix distinctive; and the public universities usually offer online programs at much more affordable prices than the for-profits.

It would not surprise me if Martin Nesbit and his rich hedge-fund cronies decided to back out of their tentative deal to buy Apollo Education Group. And that would be a shame, because that would suck all the air out of a bunch of golden parachutes.


Ronald Hansen. Apollo Education sale 'golden parachute' could be worth $22 million to executives. Arizona Republic, March 8, 2016. Accessible at

Sarah Jones. Top Apollo Education Investor Urges Board to Resist Takeover. Bloomberg News, January 29, 2016. Accessible at

Patria Cohen and Chad Bray. University of Phoenix Owner, Apollo Education Group, Will Be Taken Private. New York Times, February 8, 2016. Accessible at

Soyong Kim. Apollo teams with Washington insider for education deal. Reuters, January 12, 2016. Accessible at


Obama expands income-repayment plans: Sharecropper Nation

The Obama administration announced yesterday that it wants to enroll 2 million more people in income-based repayment plans (IBRPs) within the next year.

I'm sure President Obama will reach that goal.  About 4.8 million people are in IBRPs now, up from just 3.9 million last summer.  It is virtually certain that 7 million people will be 20-year or 25-year repayment plans by the end of 2017.

But this is insane! Putting people in long-term income-based repayment plans basically makes them sharecroppers, forcing them to pay a percentage of their income to the government over the majority of their working lives.

Many people in IBRPs didn't even complete the education programs that dragged them into debt. How can that be good for our economy--to have millions of people making monthly payments  for two decades or more for educational experiences that are worthless to them?

And let's not forget that most people don't sign up for these long-term repayment plans immediately after they finish their studies. Generally, they initially try to make loan payments under the standard 10-year repayment plan. It is only when they fall behind on their payments or default that they sign up for an IBRP.

Brenda Butler, who recently lost a court battle to discharge her student loans in bankruptcy, is a case in point. Butler graduated from Chapman University in 1995 and tried to keep current on her student loans for almost 20 years. Eventually, she signed up for a 25-year repayment plan and filed for bankruptcy.  Although the judge ruled that Butler had acted in good faith, she denied Butler a discharge.  Butler is now in a 25-year repayment plan that will not be completed until 2037--42 years after Butler graduated from college!

President Obama and Secretary of Education John King tout IBRPs as beneficial to college-loan borrowers. As Secretary King put it in a conference call to reporters, "The goal is to get all of the folks who would benefit from income-based repayment into one of the plans that make sense for them."

But of course, these long-term repayment plans are nothing more than a cynical scheme by our government to sweep the student-loan catastrophe under the rug. Virtually everyone in these plans is making payments that are so low that the payments don't cover accruing interest. In other words, most people in these plans will be seeing their loan balances go up, not down, as the years go by.

In short, most people in IBRPs are not paying down their student loans at all; they're basically just paying a 20-year penalty for making poor educational choices when they were young. For all practical purposes, people in IBRPs--soon to be 7 million people--have defaulted on their loans; and we can add that 7 million to the 10 million who officially defaulted or are delinquent in their loan payments.

So if you borrowed too much money to go to college and didn't find a good job, this is your likely future: You will eventually join an IRBP and become a sharecropper.

Image result for sharecroppers wpa


Josh Mitchell. White House to Push Student Borrowers to Get Into Debt-Relief Plans. Wall Street Journal, Apri 28, 2016.  Accessible at

Michael Stratford. Obama Admin Sets New Income-Based Repayment Goal. Inside Higher Ed, April 28, 2016.

U.S. Department of Education. Income-Driven Repayment plan Enrollment Jumps, Delinquency Rates Drop in New Student Loan Data, August 20, 2015. Accessible at

Why Student Debtors Go Unrescued. New York Times, October 7, 2015. Accessible at

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Bernie Sanders Supporter Who Will Vote For Donald Trump: Cry Havoc!

You ask me if I'll get along.
I guess I will, someway.
I don't like it but I guess things happen that way.

Guess Things Happen That Way
Johnny Cash

I am a die hard Bernie Sanders fan. As I said in an earlier blog, I will support him until the last dog dies, right through the California primary election.  I have harshly criticized Donald Trump on my Catholic blog site because I think Donald's stand on immigration is contrary to Catholic teaching. And I'm not taking my anti-Trump posts down.

But here's a message for Hillary. If I am faced with a choice between Donald Trump and Crooked Hillary, I'm voting for the Donster.

Hillary claims to be a progressive but her brand of progressivism allows her to collect a quarter million dollars a pop making secret speeches to corporate oligarchs. 

Hillary's brand of progressivism is Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew's brand of progressivism. Lew took more than two thirds of a million dollars as an exit bonus when he left New York University, the most venal and expensive higher education institution in America. But he's a progressive because he wants Harriet Tubman's face on the dollar bills he lines his pockets with.

Hillary's brand of progressivism is Arne Duncan's brand of progressivism. He bleated repeatedly about the student-loan crisis but did nothing to rein in the for-profit college industry while he was Secretary of Education. In fact, at the direction of his boss, Duncan cynically constructed a modern-day form of serfdom whereby millions of distressed student-loan debtors pay a percentage of their income to the federal government for 20 and even 25 years.  And when he finished picking his nose at the Department of Education, Duncan toddled off to the Brookings Institution, where he will probably write policy papers defending the status quo in higher education and rake in money sitting on corporate boards.

Hillary's brand of progressivism is the New York Times' brand of progressivism, which tells the people of North Carolina how to go to the bathroom while it organizes Luxury Conferences and peddles obscenely expensive New York real estate in its advertising pages.

Hillary's brand of progressivism allows her to think Americans are so stupid that she can mock Donald Trump for flying in a private jet, while she flies in a private jet that is almost identical.

Yes, and Hillary's brand of progressivism is Barack Obama's brand of progressivism, which allowed Barack to  cozy up to Wall Street for eight years while the death rate for working-class white people went up--driven by suicide, liver disease, and drug abuse.

In short, I reject Hillary and all her empty promises.  I would much prefer to vote for Bernie Sanders in November, but if I must choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, I'm pulling the lever for Trump. As Johnny Cash put it, "I don't like it, but I guess things happen that way."

Will Donald Trump bring chaos to the United States? Perhaps. But I think Hillary and the political elites are going to find that millions of Americans would rather risk chaos than be manipulated by an old political hack and her Ivy League cronies for the next four years.  

Indeed, Shakespeare expresses my sentiment exactly: "Cry 'Havoc!"

Image result for "jacob lew"
Jacob Lew, Secretary of the Treasury: I want my cash in small bills, preferably with Harriet Tubman's picture on it


Andrew J. Chirlin. Why Are White Death Rates Rising? New York Times, February 22, 2016. Accessible at

Danny Hakim. Obama's Treasury Nominee Got Unusual Exit Bonus on Leaving N.Y.U. New York Times, February 25, 2013. Accessible at

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Paul Krugman ranks Hillary as best presidential candidate to handle an economic crisis: Why am I not surprised that Krugman ignored Bernie?

In 1928, Myles Connolly (1897-1964), wrote a brilliant Catholic novella entitled Mr. Blue. The title character is a sort of modern-day St. Francis who delivers a series of zingers about secular American culture. Books, Mr. Blue observes at one point in the narrative, are for people who have already made up their minds or have no minds to make up.

We might say much the same thing about the New York Times.  Day after day it dishes out its so-called "progressive" drivel, lecturing the whole world on how to behave--from the North Carolina legislature to Vladimir Putin.  Without a doubt, the Times is the publication of choice for people who have already made up their minds or are totally incapable of doing their own thinking.

So I was not surprised to read Paul Krugman's recent op ed essay in the Times arguing that Hillary Clinton would be the best President to deal with a major economic crisis.  Although he purported to make logical arguments, Krugman was totally dismissive of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. "The Donald doesn't know much," Krugman sneered contemptuously, "but Ted Cruz knows a lot that isn't so" (stealing a line from Mark Twain).

Krugman essentially writes the same essay over and over, for which the Times compensates him handsomely. Day after day, he assures his idiot readers that Barack Obama does everything right and that massive deficit spending is the smartest way to manage the American economy.  And now of course he lavishes the same fawning praise on Hillary Clinton that he slathered on Obama for the last eight years.

Normally, I wouldn't comment on Krugman's screeds, but his latest piece on Hillary deserves a response.  First of all, although Krugman expressed utter contempt for Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in his essay about presidential qualifications, he didn't even mention Bernie Sanders, the only presidential candidate who has articulated a coherent and principled economic policy.

I feel sure Krugman's omission was intentional. Ignoring Bernie was Krugman's insinuating way of suggesting that Bernie is such a minor political figure that he doesn't even deserve comment. After all, Krugman doesn't dare offend Hillary in the slightest way by giving even an iota of credibility to her dogged opponent.

Second, Krugman basically acknowledged that a major economic crisis is coming to the United States. But look at where he predicts it will come from. "China has a severely unbalanced economy," he tells us, and there's also a potential for an oil crisis.

Basically, Krugman is already laying the groundwork for putting the blame for the next economic crisis on forces outside President Obama's control.

What sophistry! Americans have some pretty good ideas about where the next economic storm is coming from, and they didn't need a Nobel Prize in Economics to figure it out. Here are some things to worry about that Krugman did not bother to mention:

  • Radical Islam. Jihadists from the Middle East are brutal nihilists who will do anything to destroy what we once charmingly called Western Civilization. If they get the capacity to deliver a cyber attack on our global financial network, they will certainly launch one. If they can figure out a way to inflict massive casualties on American civilians, they will certainly do it. 
  • The collapse of the European Union under the relentless tide of Islamic refugees, which could trigger a fascist backlash as Europeans see the erosion of their ancient cultures.
  • A global financial crisis caused by chicanery and greed in the international banking industry.
  • War between Israel and Iran, which will soon be a nuclear power.
  • The destruction of the American middle class as American working people are sacrificed to satiate the greed of  the global oligarchs and young people are suffocated by student-loan debt they acquired to obtain worthless undergraduate and professional degrees.
Krugman did not mention any of these possible scenarios--scenarios that keep Americans up at night-- because a catastrophe from any of these sources could be fairly blamed at least partly on President Obama--the liberal elite's Sun King. 

So keep reading Paul Krugman if you believe the political, academic and media elites know what's best for us or if you are so intellectually lazy that you want someone else to do your thinking. After all, that's exactly what the Times and its columnists are there for--to do your thinking for you.

Image result for paul krugman
Paul Krugman: Bernie who?


Paul Krugman. The 8 A.M. Call. New York Times, April 25, 2016.  Accessible at

Monday, April 25, 2016

Cokie & Steve Roberts urge Bernie to take a fall for Hillary: Old croakers with outmoded ideas about what is good for America

Cokie and Steve Roberts published an op ed essay today urging Bernie Sanders to back off on his presidential campaign so he won't hurt Hillary Clinton's chances of beating Donald Trump in November.

"If you want to stay in the race to propound your policy ideas, fine," the Roberts couple counseled Bernie. "But don't keep undercutting the one candidate who can save the party--and the country--from a President Trump."

I read the Roberts' op ed essay in the Baton Rouge Advocate, where it appeared under a photo of Cokie and Steve looking like they are in their 40s. But Cokie is 72 years old,and Steve is 73! Frankly, their ideas are as outmoded as their media photos.

In essence, the Roberts are arguing that Bernie should either get out of the presidential race or tone down his energy so that Hillary will be assured of beating Donald Trump.  Indeed, they are pointedly urging him to take fall for Hillary in order to save the Democratic Party.

But most Bernie supporters don't want to save the Democratic Party if it means propping up a corrupt gang of cronies and insiders who are all beholden to the corporate interests. I for one don't give a damn about the Democratic Party. I registered as a Democrat for the first time in December for no other reason than to vote for Bernie in the Louisiana Democratic primary.

The Roberts also urge Bernie to get out of the race or take a powder so that Hillary will be in a stronger position to beat Donald Trump in the fall. But many Bernie supporters don't see Hillary as an improvement over Trump. The Roberts themselves admit in their op ed essay that only 19 percent of voters think Hillary is honest. Even among Democrats, only 40 percent of Democratic voters trust her.

Donald Trump has big negatives for sure. But his negatives are going down in the polls, and Hillary's are going up. I predict by September, about the same percentage of Americans will find both candidates odious.

Cokie and Steve don't realize that the United States has changed. Establishment politics is totally unacceptable to a great many Americans--particularly young Americans. If it is a choice between the Donster and Crooked Hillary, millions of fair-minded progressive American voters will have a great deal of trouble deciding which candidate is the lesser of two evils.

Cokie and Steve want Bernie to take a fall for Hillary


Cokie & Steve Roberts. For party's sake, time for Sanders to back off. Baton Rouge Advocate, April 25, 2016, p. 5B. Online version of essay accessible at

The student-loan crisis and Presidential politics: Bernie needs to up his game on student loans to attract young votes

Bernie is very popular with young voters. He out polled Hillary by almost 4 to 1 among the twenty-somethings in the New York Democratic primary, and he's done even better with young voters in other primaries. Young people sense almost instinctively that Hillary is just a political hack, and that Bernie has ideas that might really make their lives better.

In fact, Bernie is the only presidential candidate to offer a realistic plan to address the student-loan crisis, which is crushing millions of Americans. Bernie's plan for a free college education at a public college is eminently sensible, and cheaper than what we are doing now, which is to loan $165 billion a year to college students and only get about half of it back.

In contrast, Hillary's student-loan reform plan is to pump an additional $30 billion a year into the nation's bloated and corrupt higher education industry.  That's Hillary's solution to every problem--let's shovel some money at it and make sure the insiders get most of the loot.

And let's not forget that Hillary tweeted young voters last summer, asking them; "How does your student loan debt make you feel? Tell us in 3 emojis or less." Let's see if I can find three profane emojis to send her.

And Cruz is no friend to student-loan debtors. He represented the lender in the famous Espinoza case, in which a bankrupt baggage handler argued that he should only be required to pay back the principal on his debt and should be relieved of the accrued interest.

Espinoza's argument was very reasonable; after all it is the accrued interest and penalties that are crushing most distressed student-loan borrowers--not the amount they actually borrowed. But Cruz's client prevailed before the Supreme Court--a 9 to 0 decision against poor Mr. Espinoza.

So if you are one of 20 million overwhelmed student-loan debtors, Bernie is the only game in town.  Unfortunately, you and I know that Bernie's free-college plan will never be enacted, because too many political interests benefit from the status quo.

But there are other student-loan reforms Bernie could propose that are less ambitious than his free-college plan but which would resonate with young voters.  Here are a few ideas for him:

1) Let's force the for-profit colleges to stop making their students sign arbitration agreements that cut off students' right to sue for fraud.  DOE Secretary John B. King favors regulations to stop colleges from putting arbitration clauses in their student contracts. Bernie could reasonably support King's efforts.

2) The government could require all loan servicers--including Educational Credit Management Corporation and Navient--to disclose the compensation packets for their senior executives and their debt collectors and to disclose on a public web site the amount they pay their lobbyists, the attorneys who hound student-loan debtors, and the recipients of all their campaign contributions.

3) The government could stop garnish Social Security checks of elderly college-loan borrowers who defaulted on their loans. This is a logical extension of the Obama administration's decision to forgive loans of disabled borrowers.

I think if Bernie would add a just couple of additional features to his plan to solve the student-loan crisis, he would see an even bigger surge of support among young voters--maybe enough of a surge to assure a victory in California.

And of course my ideas for appealing to young voters are open to any of the Presidential candidates: Hillary, Cruz, Kasich and Trump could take these ideas and run with them. But Bernie is the only presidential candidate who shows any interest in solving the student -loan crisis.

Ted Cruz: No friend of student-loan debtors

Image result for hillary clinton emoji
How does Hillary's emoji on student loans make you feel?


United Student Aid Funds, Inc. v. Espinosa, 130 S.Ct. 1367 (2010).

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Arbitration clauses in student-loan documents:the sad case of Sierra Roach v. Navient Solutions, Inc.

In 2015, Sierra Roach sued Navient Solutions, Inc. for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  Navient had been pursuing Roach to collect on five student loans totaling almost $69,000--money that had been disbursed to Bowie State University, not Roach.

Roach disputed the debt and claimed she was being repeatedly called by debt collectors. She also claimed that credit reporting bureaus were  issuing inaccurate credit reports about her.

Navient filed a motion asking a federal court to stay Roach's suit and compel her to arbitrate pursuant to an arbitration clause that was buried in the promissory notes she allegedly signed. (Roach claimed not to remember signing the notes.)

Roach's defense to Navient's arbitration demand was that she had signed the promissory note with another entity, not Navient.  But Navient presented evidence showing it had power to collect the debt, and a federal court granted Navient's arbitration demand in an order issued last December.

Roach had some other claims against Navient, but she apparently submitted them late and inartfully. After all, she had sued Navient without an attorney and was unfamiliar with the niceties of practicing law.

Some judges deal leniently with people who go to court without lawyers, but not Roach's judge. She had filed a "surreply memorandum," which the judge refused to consider, saying "sureplies are highly disfavored."

Although it is not entirely clear, she also apparently argued that the arbitration clause buried in the promissory notes had not come to her attention and that she did not realize that she had waived her right to sue when she signed the promissory notes.

The judge did not like this argument at all. In a footnote, he cited language from another decision that said: "[T]he fact that [plaintiff] may have chosen not not to access or read the  language of the Arbitration Agreement does not render it invalid or non-binding."

In short, the judge forced Roach to arbitrate her claims against  Navient.

Scholars and commentators largely agree that arbitration generally favors corporate parties. That's why banks, financial institutions, and student-loan lenders force people to sign arbitration clauses in routine documents. Like Ms. Roach, most people do not understand that they are signing away their right to sue for wrongdoing when they agree to arbitrate.

Two comments on the Roach case:

1) Many student-loan debtors are losing in the courts because they are not represented by competent lawyers. Roach's best argument for invalidating the arbitration clause was that it is an "adhesion contract" that she was forced to sign as a condition for getting federal loan money. Courts have ruled for fifty years or more that agreements waiving the right to sue can be nullified if the party signing the waiver is the weaker party with no opportunity to negotiate and no choice but to sign in order to receive a service. But Ms.Roach probably knew nothing about adhesion contracts.

Distressed student-loan debtors ought to have access to pro bono (free) legal services. There are literally hundreds of thousands of unemployed lawyers right now--and most of them have massive student-loan debt themselves. Their talents should be harnessed to help people like Ms. Roach.

2) The fact that student-loan lenders and for-profit colleges are allowed to put arbitration clauses in student-loan documents and college-enrollment forms is a scandal. Secretary of Education John B. King announced recently that he opposes this practice and will draft regulations that will put some limits on it.

But the regulation revision will go through a negotiations process, and any regulations DOE adopts are likely to be watered down. After all, the finance industry and the for-profit colleges have powerful lobbyists and sharp lawyers, and they make campaign contributions to powerful politicians.

For now at least, millions of people are jeopardizing their financial futures when they borrow money to attend college. Even if they are defrauded or get substandard educational experiences, they are barred from filing suit. And if they file for bankruptcy to get a fresh start, the creditors' attorneys are waiting for them to make sure these distressed debtors get booted out of bankruptcy court.


Roach v. Navient Solutions, Inc., 2015 WL 8479195 (D. Maryland, Dec. 10, 2015).

U.S. Department of Education. U.S. Department of Education Takes Further Steps to Protect Students from Predatory Higher Education Institutions. March 11, 2016. Accessible at

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Hillary cackles over her victory in the New York Democratic Primary: But the Upstate rubes went for Bernie

If you go to a map depicting how New York Democrats voted in yesterday's Democratic primary election, you will be shocked. At first blush, it looks like Bernie Sanders won a landslide victory. In fact, with the exception of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Long Island and New York City and its nearby suburbs, Bernie carried the whole state.

A  view of a map showing voting patterns in the Massachusett Democratic primary shows a similar pattern. Eastern Massachusetts--Boston and its  affluent suburbs--went for Hillary and the western part of the state voted overwhelmingly for Bernie.

Of course this pattern is easily explained. Most voters live in the cities, and a lot of city people like Hillary.

But why is this so? Why do the voters of Boston and New York City support Hillary while the rural and small town folks back Bernie?

Basically, the people who have prospered in the global economy are urbanites. People in banking and financial services, the media elites, academics, techies and entertainment moguls have done pretty well in the 21st century economy, and they know Hillary will maintain the status quo. Her fans aren't offended by the fact that she compulsively stuffs corporate money into her pants suit because they are doing the same thing.

On the other hand, Americans in the nation's small towns and rural areas are hurting economically; and they are hurting badly. Bernie's straightforward message about economic reform resonates with these people. Even in Oklahoma, perhaps the most conservative state in the Union, Democrats voted overwhelmingly for Bernie with the exception of voters living in two affluent urban clusters. Having grown up in Oklahoma, I can tell you, the Okies are suffering in the post-recession economy. The word socialist does not frighten them at all.

I don't think Hillary cares whether the rubes like her. She thinks she's holding all the cards. But there are more poor people in the U.S. than rich ones. And there are millions of people who aren't poor now but soon will be--including 20 million people who can't pay off their student loans.

If more poor people wake up the fact that Hillary is just a huckster--a shill for the global oligarchs--they will look for someone else to vote for. But Hillary is counting on sliding into the Oval Office before the rubes figure out that the game is rigged against them and that Hillary helped rig it.

New York Democratic Primary: The brown splotches went for Hillary

Oklahoma Democratic Primary: The brown splotches went for HIllary
Ditto for Massachusetts

Karen Blumenthal, Hillary's Biographer, Insults the Intelligence of Young American Women by Calling Them Naive For Supporting Bernie

Last night, as I was driving home across the Atchafalaya Basin, I listened on my radio to a BBC interview with Karen Blumenthal, Hillary Clinton's biographer. The BBC reporter asked Blumenthal to explain why the vast majority of young American women who were voting in Democratic primaries were supporting Bernie Sanders for President, and not Hillary.

Blumenthal admitted that she was mystified by this trend. And then she added that young female Bernie supporters were "naive" and lacked a proper appreciation of Hillary's record in the fight to advance women's rights.

How insulting to young American women!

Essentially, Blumenthal was expressing the same view as the two old crones Hillary wheeled out to scold young American women a few months ago: Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem. Remember Albright's famous quote? "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other."

In my view, young women who support Bernie are not naive. On the contrary, a lot of them are politically quite sophisticated.They know Hillary is totally indifferent to the concerns of young Americans and that's why they are voting for Bernie.

They know, for example, that Hillary's campaign slogan, "Fighting for Us," is nothing more than a bald misrepresentation concocted by Hillary's spin doctors.  Hillary isn't fighting for us; who could believe such a wild story? After all, she sat on Walmart's board of directors for six years, and she made $11 million in less than two years making speeches to corporate pirates.  Last year alone, Hillary and Bill raked in $28 million; that's 100 times more than Bernie and Jane Sanders' income in 2014.

Second, young voters know Hillary will do nothing to alleviate the student-loan crisis. In fact, Hillary's only plan for addressing this enormous problem is to shovel more money toward the bloated and corrupt higher education industry. If elected President, she won't rein in the for-profit college industry, which has exploited millions of young Americans.She accepted nearly a quarter of a million dollars from a for-profit education corporation for making a single speech. And another for-profit college company paid Hillary's husband Bill more than $16 million for serving as its "honorary chancellor."

Karen Blumenthal may dismiss Bernie's young supporters as naive, but it is Blumenthal herself who is naive if she thinks young American women need to wise up and support Hillary. In my opinion, these women will never support Hillary Clinton; and if Hillary is elected President, the Democratic Party will lose a whole generation of thoughtful and highly concerned young women voters--both men and women. After all, in last night's New York primary election, people in their 20s voted for Bernie over Hillary by a margin of nearly 4 to 1.

Karen Blumenthal,  doing her Hillary Clinton  imitation (in costume)

Katie Dreyer. How Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem Betrayed Women Everywhere. Huffington Post, February 8, 2015. Accessible at

Chuck Ross. Madeleine Albright Tells Young Women Women Voters 'There's A Special Place In Hell' For Them If They Don't Support Hillary. Daily Caller, February 2, 2016. Accessible at

Jonathan Swan. Sanders Wins Young Voters, Clinton Older Voters in NY Exit Polls., April 19, 2016. Accessible at

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hillary Clinton's ties to the for-profit college industry: If she becomes President, expect the status quo

The for-profit college industry has had a good run. For years, it has sucked up about a quarter of all federal student-loan money, while only enrolling about 12 percent of the nation's students.

The for-profits have reaped big profits, and why not? Some of them spend more on recruiting than they do on instruction.  Most of their revenues (nearly 90 percent for most for-profit colleges) come from the federal student-loan program, and their docile students passively sign the  loan documents that are pushed in front of them by the for-profits' efficient student processors.

And if anyone accuses them of fraud or misrepresentation--hey, no problem. Most for-profits force their students to waive their right to sue somewhere in the enrollment documents.

For years, the for-profits have greased the wheels on their gravy train by making strategic campaign contributions to important people in Congress and by hiring Washington lobbyists to protect their interests. Everyone from Mitt Romney to Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz got a little money from the for-profits, and so adequately regulating this gang of pirates is out of the question.

Will things change if Hillary is elected President? It's very unlikely. Here are a few tidbits of information about Hillary and Bill Clinton's ties to the for-profit industry that come from a recent article by Michael Stratford.

  • Bill Clinton worked for Laureate Education, which has for profit colleges all over the world. According to Stratford's article, Bill earned $16.5 million between 2010 and 2014 working for Laureate. In fact, Bill Clinton served as honorary chancellor for Laureate International Universities  until last year, when he resigned  shortly before Hillary launched her campaign. 
  • Hillary earned $225,000 making a speech to Academic Partnerships, a for-profit company that makes big bucks partnering with public universities and turning face-to-face courses into online courses that Academic Partnership oversees. 
  • Several of Hillary Clinton's campaign-fund bundlers have worked as lobbyists for Apollo Group, the parent company of University of Phoenix. (And by the way, Barack Obama's "best friend," Martin Nesbitt, is making plans to buy Apollo Group.)
David Halperin, an investigative reporter who has done a good job reporting on the for-profit industry, praised Hillary for taking a "strong, principled stand against predatory for-profit college companies," but I am highly skeptical.

When I was growing up, I was taught that there are only two kinds of snakes: dead ones and live ones. Similarly, with perhaps a few exceptions, there are only two kinds of for-profit colleges: the ones that exploit the student-loan program to the detriment of their students, and the ones that have closed.

Former President Bill Clinton speaks to students at Laureate’s Universidad Latina in Costa Rica.


Frank Cerabino. Failed medical college was reliable source of campaign money. Palm Beach Post, November 2, 2015.

David Halperin. Top Democratic Lawyer Pushed Pentagon to End U. of Phoenix Suspension. Huffington Post, March 17, 2016.

Richard Rubin. Hillary and Bill Clinton Mad $139 Million in Eight Years., July 31, 2015.

Charles M. Smith and Dina Rasor. For-profit colleges are bankrolling Romney to keep to keep student loan money flowing., June 14, 2012.

Michael Stratford. Hillary Clinton's ties to for-profit education companies. Inside Higher Education, April 18, 2016.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Immorality of American Graduate Education: A Look At the Fields of Law and Education

When commentators write about the student-loan crisis, they often focus on people who attended for-profit institutions. And indeed, almost half of the students who borrowed to attend a for-profit college default on their loans within five years.

Law schools: Declining admission standards and too many graduates for the job market

But people who borrow to get graduate degrees from respectable institutions are also suffering in huge numbers. Let's start with the field of law, where the job market for full-time attorney jobs has collapsed. According to an article by Joshua Wright, there are more than two attorneys for every law job (based on 2012 data).

Many potential law students have figured this out, and law school enrollments have plummeted.  First-year enrollment in American law schools in the fall of last year was 30 percent lower than 2010. As Aaron N. Taylor pointed out in a Chronicle of Higher Education essay, this decline represents the equivalent of about 60 law schools in 2010.

How have law schools responded to this downturn? In order to keep classroom seats filled, many have been admitting a larger and larger percentage of applicants. As Taylor explained it, the median admission rate among law schools in 2015 was 54 percent, "meaning that applicants at more than half the law schools in the country had better than 50-50 odds of gaining admission." According to Taylor, 24 law schools had admission rates of 70 percent or higher! In other words, some American law schools are drifting pretty darn close to having open admission policies.

And as a recent report from Law School Transparency documents, admissions standards are falling at law schools with a number of schools admitting students with LSAT scores so low that they are at extreme risk of failing the bar exam.

All this is happening as law-school tuition has skyrocketed. The average JD graduate enters an anemic job market with $140,000 in debt.

Obviously, law schools should cut their tuition prices drastically and some law schools should be closed. For example, Southern University Law School in Baton Rouge and Texas Southern University's law school have shockingly low admission standards and their graduates have very low pass rates when they take their bar exams. Why do these schools remain open?

Graduate programs in Education: Declining demand and low quality

But let's not just pick on law programs. Let's look at graduate programs in Education, which is my own field.

The National Science Foundation reported recently that that doctorates in education declined 27 percent in just 5 years: from 6,528 to 4,793. Furthermore, in 2014, less than two thirds of Education doctoral graduates had jobs in their fields or postdoc commitments. Perhaps most disturbing, doctoral graduates in Education had the highest mean debt loads among graduates in all doctoral fields. According to NSF, their mean cumulative debt was $36,260 in 2014, and 23 percent had debt loads of $70,000 or more.

We have far too many colleges of education--around 1200. The National Commission on Excellence in Educational Administration recommended closing three-fifths of the nation's graduate programs in Educational Leadership (the programs that train school principals and superintendents), and it is surely right. Arthur Levine, who published a much discussed report on graduate programs in Educational Leadership, found that most of them were competing in a "race to the bottom," with many Educational Leadership programs having low admission standards, low graduation standards, weak faculty, weak research production, and "irrelevant" curricula.

But have universities improved the quality of graduate programs in Education? Have they closed weak programs or redundant schools of education? By and large, they have not. In Louisiana, where I teach, every four-year public institution has a college or school of education, far more than the state needs. And--based on my own experience working in colleges of education at four public universities, admissions standards are going down for doctoral programs. At the University of Houston, where I worked a few years ago, the Educational Leadership program had several doctoral student with GRE scores in the bottom 10th percentile.


The student-loan crisis has many dimensions, and millions of victims. Students who attended for-profit colleges are among the casualties, but many people who obtained graduate degrees at reputedly respectable institutions are also among the wounded.  Thousands of law school graduates and people with graduate degrees in Education have accumulated massive levels of debt for educational experiences that didn't lead to well-paying jobs.

Do we need to clean up the for-profit college industry? Yes we do. But we also need to close a lot of law schools and graduate programs in Education.


Arthur Levine. Educating School Leaders. Education Schools Project, 2005. Accessible at

Aaron N. Taylor. Are Financially Desperate Law Schools Using a 'Reverse' Robin Hood Scheme' to Stay Afloat? Chronicle of Higher Education, April 20, 2016. Accessible at

Joshua Wright. The Oversaturated Job Market for Lawyers Continues, and On-The-Side Legal Work Grows., January 10, 2014.

National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. 2014 Doctorate Recipients From U.S. Universities. National Science Foundation, December 2015. Accessible at