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American Miseducation

Corinthian-collegeMarquel TPVs NYTimes Education For Profit Section, was weaving a basket out of some old socks, when he read College Group Run for Profit Looks to Close or Sell Schools. Corinthian Colleges, under an agreement with the Education Department, will sell almost 100 schools in the United States and Canada, and it will close a dozen others. It has been closed down under threat of prosecution, the owners having engaged in a long and tiresome fraud, promising students in subjects from candle-lighting to restaurant complaining, that they would get a job upon graduation and that an imaginary 90% or more of previous students were profitably employed. In fact the number has been closer to a flat zero for several decades. The Education Department has an interest because almost all of the colleges’ students received government loans to attend these nonexistential colleges. Why it took the government so long is mysterious, the answer no doubt involving large political donations and, perhaps, a bit skimmed off the top as well.

Marquel was angered by this story. But Marquel has been angry ever since he read the story of the three Orthodox Jews who, having invaded the West Bank, thereby violating international law, and having treated native Palestinians like scum, somehow successfully united the country that was to be a “light unto the nations” by getting themselves killed by the population they brutally and violently occupied. In retaliation, some so-called Jewish terrorists, but actually terrorists without the slightest religious bond to the Jewish religion, or any other religion (making them similar to most terrorists) kidnapped a completely innocent Palestinian youngster in his homeland, where he has every right to live, and burned him alive.

Burned him alive.

That was no misprint, Marquel realized, they burned him alive. This has nothing to do with the college story, of course, but it is meant to inform you of the bitterness that might creap unintentionally into the college story. (Caution, Angry Writer Ahead)

Marquel felt guilty unable to give the college story a truly neutral approach, but he couldn’t deal with the Israel story quite yet. Instead, he and Mufi took a break from making noodles on Bayard street, and played Jewish invader versus Palestinian resistance. Each took a turn playing the other side and they beat each other to death with wet noodles. After a few hours of playing a Palestinian, and then a terrorist and then a Palestinian, and then a terrorist, they both felt calmer and had lo mein. The noodles had been ruined.

Back to the college story. Marquel went downtown where one of the owners of Corinthian had an office and quizzed him.

After all these years, are you ready to admit that nobody ever got a job from any of your 100 plus colleges?” I asked.

Well, I would, but it’s not true.” he said.

You actually have employed graduates? Do you take me for an idiot? Do you take me for the Education Department?” I asked, astonished.

If I did I apologize. The Education Department is actually worse than we have ever been. They kept us going, giving us money, more money, and than when the scandal reached worldwide proportions two years ago, they gave us even more money! What idiots.” he said.

I realize that. But back to the college. How many really got jobs? My understanding is most of them got deported. Your students were almost all illegal.” I said.

Well, then,” he said, “how could it be our fault if they didn’t get jobs?” he asked.

Because you told them, when they told you they were illegal and didn’t think they qualified for loans, that you could not only get them the loans but that they would also get well-paying jobs when the graduated.” I said.

They believed me?” he asked.

Weren’t they supposed to?” I asked.

Of course they were supposed to…but who could imagine…?” he wondered.

Well, jobs or no jobs? Any graduates gainfully employed?” I asked.

Of course.” He said.

Who?” I asked.

Me, for one,” he said.

You? You hired you? Who else?” I asked.

Well, the Dean of Students, the Dean of Faculty, the Librarian, the Registrar, all of our maintenance personnel, and the souvenir shop operator.”

They all went to Corinthian?” I asked.

Or one of our other colleges.” he said.

What did the souvenir shop operator study at Corinthian?” I asked.

She majored in cash register operation, and minored in trinkets.” he said.

That’s a college education?” I asked.

Got her a job.” he said.

And you?” I asked.

Well, I majored in fruit tasting, shoelace tying, and basket weaving. Real basket weaving, not the kind that they used to have at the University of Miami.” he said.

And that’s what you graduated with to get this job?” I asked.

No, I didn’t graduate. I couldn’t distinguish a plum and a nectarine. Only course I failed, but I needed the credits, so I left without the degree and became president.” He said, uncomfortably and clearly unwillingly.

I see,” I said, speechless.”Tell me about your plans now. I’m told basically you’re wrapping up. Selling all your assets, I suppose.”

Yes, our operating capital has dropped lately from 26 million to 14 million.” he said.

What are you going to do?” I asked. “I heard you already sold a half a dozen schools.

Yes, it’s tricky because they make no money and the government isn’t willing to pay the tuitions any more. Very fickle, if you ask me.”

So who bought these colleges so far?” I asked.

Both Yale and Harvard bought colleges.” He said.

I was stunned. “You know that’s not true.”

Au contraire,” he said. “It is absolutely true. Here are the transfer of ownership papers.”

I looked at them and they looked valid. Not that I’m an expert but I noticed something both unusual and convincing. Both Yale and Harvard had been paid $5 million to purchase the colleges. “You call this a purchase?” I asked. “You paid them. How is that a purchase?”

Easy,” he said. “The assets all go to those two schools. That’s a transfer, and thus a sale. It doesn’t matter who pays.”

When I go to the supermarket to buy some Hoisin sauce, Soy sauce, and nut oil, they make me pay. Do you think I’ve been doing it wrong? When they sell me things, you think they should pay me? That’s revolutionary.” I said. “But impractical, I’m sure.”

Well, this is a different level of finance,” he said. “It works. And the Education Department is happy. That keeps me out of jail.”

Hey,” I said, suddenly seized by an epiphany. “Tell me, I know this may sound whatever…but…when you gave Harvard and Yale ten million dollars, would that involve a credit on your taxes for a charitable donation?”

Only my accountant could tell you that, and he’s sworn to secrecy.” he said.

Who’d he swear it to?” I asked.

Me.” he said.

Look,” I said, “ is there anything at all legitimate about this operation or is it still the same scam in death as it was in life?”

Well, look at it this way,” he said. “Why should we change?”

I thought about it and figured, all crooks look at it that way. Why should they change? They’re the ones getting the free money and staying out of jail. The others are getting deported, or seeking welfare, or begging for loose change outside every supermarket in Manhattan. Not to mention the complicity of the government in this sorry tale. I wondered if that was true of most crime also. I suddenly wondered how many Corinthian graduates I would find in front of Whole Food. And what their major was.

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BY MARQUEL: American Miseducation


1 COMMENT

  1. Glad both you and M took up the killings – you’d think if nothing else, it would be horrible enough for responsible adults to say “look what we’re doing” and decide it’s time to try stopping – so I am naive.

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