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Instructors Caught in the Crossfire

November 19, 2010 3 comments

while the government, activists (including this blog), and media continue to question the unethical and greedy practices of the for-profit education sector, instructors and/or the quality of education often gets thrown into the mix.  however, from all of our conversations, it has been clear to us that this allegation is more complex than simple guilt by association.  while the business end of the for-profit machine is mercilessly pummeling the government and underprivileged students, it is not fair to say that the education end of the school is 100% in cahoots.

in our contributors’ comments, it was communicated that the instructors were given a complex situation to manage with little or no recourse.  Because of the “take anyone who can get financial aid” admissions process, the teacher is stuck with a classroom ranging from the reluctant/nothing-invested student to the highly-motivated/self-funded.  By all accounts, this would be difficult to manage especially when the room needs to graduate a particular percentage in order to keep its license.  So in most cases, the class gets bogged down.

As if this wasn’t enough, the admissions team sticks education again by taking 15%-30% of the revenues for to keep themselves happy while they pursue unethical and aggressive recruiting practices.  In privately held for-profits, the business is routinely looking for 40%+ profit margins meaning that there is only 30%-45% of revenues left for the entire rest of the business – including fixed costs, salaries, etc.  Bottom line, is that education routinely is told that there are little resources for what they want to do to enhance the teaching process.

Lastly, they lack any organizational power to influence change.  When you have a VP of admissions bragging to the entire executive team that he brings in 100% of the revenue (thus, profit) and needs something to improve it, the business will trip over itself to feed the monster.  that is how the budgets for admissions gets so bloated.  for example, at american career college, the meals and entertainment budget (the day-to-day account, meetings/events had a different budget) could easily afford lunch for every admissions rep every day the school was open with room to spare.

so, the instructors do the best they can with what they have.  now, it is true, they have chosen working for this type of organization so they are part of the machine.  usually this is complicated by aggressive salaries to keep them where they are, something very compelling for a person trying to survive the current recession.

bottom line, while an admissions staff, especially the VP of admissions, have no excuses for the practices they have implemented, the culpability of the instructors is not clear.  we should be sure that we do not paint everyone with same paintbrush we use for admissions/administration.