Friday, April 27, 2012

Washington Post subsidiary joined ALEC

We always wondered why the Washington Post's editorial page is so horrible. Granted, it features a few good writers, but most of them just spew corporate propaganda. And Post editors never met a job-killing trade deal they didn't love.

Now we know why so many Post columns are so awful. The Washington Post Company owns a for-profit education subsidiary. The newspaper is in a death spiral, and it's likely the Kaplan educational division has become the tail that wags The Washington Post dog.

Now the The Republic Report tells us Kaplan was a member of ALEC last year:
Republic Report has obtained a July 2011 document showing Kaplan Higher Education and other for-profits as members of ALEC’s Education Task Force. This morning, in an email message to Republic Report, Mark Harrad, Vice President of Communications at Kaplan, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Washington Post Company that includes Kaplan Higher Education, wrote, “A unit of Kaplan was a member of ALEC for a one year period, which ended in August 2011.” 
For-profit colleges are the ultimate special interest. Many receive around 90 percent of their revenue from federal financial aid, more than $30 billion a year, and many charge students sky-high prices. In recent years, it has been fully documented that a large number of these schools have high dropouts rates and dismal job placement, and many have been caught engaging in highly coercive and deceptive recruiting practices. Yet when the bad actions of these predatory schools got publicly exposed, the schools simply used the enormous resources they’ve amassed to hire expensive lobbyists and consultants, and to make campaign contributions to politicians, in order to avoid accountability and keep taxpayer dollars pouring into their coffers.
We also learn this about Kaplan from the New York Times:
Over the last decade, Kaplan has moved aggressively into for-profit higher education, acquiring 75 small colleges and starting the huge online Kaplan University. Now, Kaplan higher education revenues eclipse not only the test-prep operations, but all the rest of the Washington Post Company’s operations. And Kaplan’s revenue grew 9 percent during the last quarter to $743.3 million — with higher education revenues more than four times greater than those from test-prep — helping its parent company more than triple its profits. [...] 
According to 2009 data released this summer by the Department of Education, only 28 percent of Kaplan’s students were repaying their student loans. That figure is well below the 45 percent threshold that most programs will need to remain fully eligible for the federal aid on which they rely. By comparison, 44 percent of students at the largest for-profit, the University of Phoenix, were repaying their loans.
The Republic Report notes:
Donald Graham, CEO of the Washington Post Company, lobbied hard against an Obama Administration rule to hold Kaplan and other colleges accountable if their programs left the vast majority of students with insurmountable debt from student loans. The argument that Graham stressed, again and again, was that the proposed rule would harm low-income students. It was never clear how a rule that channeled federal aid toward education programs that actually helped students get training and jobs, and away from programs that ruined their lives, would harm low-income people. But now we know that Kaplan was part of ALEC, which advanced model laws on Stand Your Ground, the provision that could influence the outcome of George Zimmerman’s criminal case for the killing of Trayvon Martin, and on Voter ID, which makes it harder for low-income people, people of color, young people, the elderly, and the disabled to vote. Why did the Washington Post Company, whose CEO proclaimed that Kaplan was committed to aiding the disadvantaged, support through Kaplan an organization that was doing these things?  And why hasn’t the Post disclosed in its coverage of ALEC that its Kaplan division was recently an ALEC member?
We have another question: How on earth could anyone consider The Washington Post "the liberal media?"