Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton disparaged America’s troubled for-profit college industry on Tuesday despite the close ties she and her husband enjoy with Laureate, America’s largest for-profit education corporation by enrollment and a company beset by charges of financial instability and unethical practices.
Clinton made the comments in her first campaign appearance since rolling into Iowa in a luxurious black Chevy Express Explorer Limited SE conversion van.
The setting was a carefully-staged roundtable event with a half dozen students and faculty members at a community college in Monticello, Iowa. In the school’s auto shop, the Wellesley College-educated Democrat sketched out the populist-progressive principles of her 2016 presidential campaign and discussed educational policy with the students and teachers, reports The Des Moines Register.
During the discussion portion of her appearance, Clinton criticized for-profit colleges for too often enrolling and then casting off disadvantaged students who borrow thousands of taxpayer-provided student loan dollars.
“Some of the for-profit schools, some of the scandals that have arisen in these places where they take all this money and put all these young people and their families into debt, even if they graduate they don’t have credentials that can get them those jobs,” Clinton said, according to the New York Daily News.
She also said that she wants to “flesh out the bad actors” in the education industry which exploit students (without specifically calling for-profit colleges “bad actors”), notes Fusion.
Clinton’s disparaging remarks about the often seedy for-profit college industry omitted the fact that she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have deep ties to Laureate Education, an international conglomerate of aggressive, telemarketing-happy, for-profit colleges that is ensnared in controversy all over the globe. (RELATED: Why Are The Clintons Hawking A Seedy, Soros-Backed For-Profit College Corporation?)
Recently, for example, the U.S. Department of Education announced that four of the $3.4 billion-per-year private company’s six U.S.-based schools are on an official list of colleges and universities at which regulators have uncovered notable financial problems. Schools on the list are penalized by having restricted access to federal funds, notes Inside Higher Ed.
Laureate scored a marketing coup when it hired Bill Clinton in 2010 as its global pitchman. In his position as honorary chancellor, he has gone around the world over a dozen times — to places such as Peru, Malaysia and Spain — to hawk the company.
The for-profit education juggernaut pays Clinton a secret sum of money for his globetrotting efforts. Neither Clinton nor Laureate will disclose exactly how much it is.
The former president gets other perks as well as cash. In 2012, for example, Laureate Education was one of a handful of sponsors of the Clinton Global Initiative’s CGI University.
Hillary Clinton has also been squarely in cahoots with Laureate. As Secretary of State, she helped legitimize Laureate in the eyes of the world by making the for-profit education behemoth part of her State Department Global Partnership.
The State Department Global Partnership exists to “strengthen and deepen U.S. diplomacy and development around the world.”
Additionally, in January 2013, during Clinton’s last month at the State Department, the World Bank’s investment unit invested $150 million in Laureate.
Douglas L. Becker, Laureate’s CEO, has donated generously to Hillary Clinton’s various political campaigns. He gave $4,600 in 2007 and $2,000 in 2005.
The huge Baltimore-based company has also enthroned a small armada of old Clinton administration hands in significant board and executive positions. Among them are Henry Cisneros, former secretary of housing and urban development, and former education secretary Richard Riley.
Laureate is America’s largest for-profit education corporation by enrollment — boasting 800,000 students worldwide. Most campuses are abroad.
The company came into existence in 2004 as the successor to Sylvan Learning Systems Inc. The basic business model is to buy struggling private colleges. Laureate then aggressively sacks professors and increases the number of paying students by massively lowering admission standards. Another core company practice is obscene expenditures — in the hundreds of millions — on advertising and (where it’s legal) hardcore telemarketing.
Laureate’s investors include Soros Fund Management LLC, which is chaired by billionaire progressive leftist George Soros; SAC Capital Advisors LP, a hedge fund that recently settled insider trading allegations to the tune of $1.2 billion; and KKR, a private-equity firm based in New York.
Laureate is one of 30 large American companies criticized in a scathing 2012 report by Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin on for-profit colleges. These companies absorb well over $30 billion each year from U.S. taxpayers. Most students never get a degree, though. Many drop out within a couple months.
The Harkin report cites many problems with the Clinton-associated for-profit college company.
For example, the report found, almost 80 percent of all cash flow at Laureate-owned Walden University comes from federal coffers. In 2009, the school devoted $101 million to a vast array of marketing efforts and another $101 million to profit. Together, these spending categories constituted close to 60 percent of the for-profit school’s total annual outlays.
Internal Walden documents “reveal an enrollment-driven culture.” Used car-salesman-esque tactics used by the sales staff included “‘overcoming objections’ scripts that anticipate and rebut” doubts about cost, credibility and lack of face-to-face instruction.
Also, at least recently, over 90 percent of Walden’s faculty has been employed only on a part-time basis.
In her campaign kickoff remarks in Iowa on Tuesday, Clinton struck an anti-elitist note with attacks on wealthy people and the financial industry.
“There’s something wrong when CEOs make 300 times more than the American worker,” she declared, according to Bloomberg Politics. “There’s something wrong when American workers keep getting more productive…but that productivity is not matched in their paychecks.”
Clinton is worth $21.5 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.