Former President of Dade Medical College
Prior to this bump in the road, Perez was doing pretty well for himself. He had twice been appointed to the Florida Commission on Independent Education, the state agency charged with regulating for-profit colleges in Florida. Last summer the South Florida Business Journal gave him an Ultimate Miami CEO Award for his "significant contributions to the local community." Not bad for a guy who dropped out of high school to join a heavy metal band.
Dade Medical College is a for-profit college with 2,000 enrolled students on five campuses. In 2012, the college received 87 percent of its revenues from federal aid--$33 million (according to a story in Huffington Post). The college attracts low-income Hispanics and African Americans who pay high tuition. The vast majority of DMC students receive federal loans or Pell grants, and 25 percent of student borrowers default on their federal student loans within three years of beginning repayment.
Do Dade Medical College students receive good value for their tuition? Maybe not. The Florida Nursing Board put two of its campus nursing programs on probation this year due to low pass rates by DMC graduates on state licensing exams. One student who was interviewed by the Broward/Palm Beach/New Times said she had taken out $48,000 in federal student loans and yet she had professors who merely gave Powerpoint presentations or read from a book.
Dade Medical College is a prime example of what's wrong with for-profit colleges in the United States. Run by a high-school dropout and lavishly funded by the federal government, the college has high failure rates on nursing exams and high student-loan default rates.
Why is the federal government funding for-profit institutions like Dade Medical College? Maybe because the for-profit college industry is politically powerful. Mr. Perez and his wife are big campaign contributors and have made contributions to Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Harry Reid, and Marco Rubio.
President Obama and Congress can talk all they want about quality controls on higher education. But the federal government is pumping billions of dollars a year into for-profit colleges and universities that prey on low-income students, provide poor quality education and have high student-loan default rates. This is a huge scandal that our politicians refuse to address.
Patricia Born & Jay Weaver. Homestead mayor's ties to downtown redeveloper probed. Miami Herald, June 8, 2013. Accessible at: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/08/v-fullstory/3441091/homestead-mayors-ties-to-downtown.html
Francisco Alvarado. Dade Medical College Has Powerful Friends but Struggling Students. Broward/Palm Beach New Times, August 29, 2013. Accessible at: http://www.browardpalmbeach.com/2013-08-29/news/dade-medical-college-has-powerful-friends-but-struggling-students/
Dade Medical College. Ernesto Perez to be Honored at SFBJ CEO Awards. 2013. Accessible at: http://www.dademedical.edu/rightnow/ernestoperezbehonoredsfbjceoawards
David Halperin. $33 Million Per Year of Your Tax Money to For-Profit College Whose CEO Hid Criminal Record. Huffington Post, October 21, 2013. Accessible at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/davidhalperin/33-million-per-year-of-yo_b_4136451.html
Michael Vasquez. Amid criminal charges, CEO of Dade Medical College Resigns. Miami Herald, October 23, 2013. Accessible at: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/10/23/3706821/ernesto-perez-resigns-as-head.html