Guerillaz

This is fucked up (via Atrios):

Managers at Kaplan–the highly profitable educational arm of the Washington Post Co.– have for years pressured academic advisors to use this method to boost enrollment numbers, the former employees said, offering accounts consistent with dozens of complaints filed by former students with the Florida Attorney General’s Office and reviewed by The Huffington Post.

Guerilla registration has been part of a concerted effort by the university to keep students enrolled as long as possible in order to harvest more of the federal financial aid dollars that make up nearly all of the company’s higher education revenues, according to former Kaplan academic advisor Sheldon Cobbler, who described the practice in detail.

Most advisors had access to a company database that allowed them to view students’ e-mail correspondence without their knowledge, said Cobbler, who worked at Kaplan’s Fort Lauderdale, Fla., corporate office from 2007 through July of this year. The advisors routinely searched through students’ e-mails to look up their user names and passwords for Kaplan’s enrollment system, and then they used that information to sign in using multiple student identities, enrolling them in classes they never intended to join, he said.

It gets worse: they then hit the kids up for cash to pay tuition fees for the courses they were forcibly enrolled in. This sounds an awful lot like something people would go to jail for in a functioning democracy.

34 replies
  1. 1
    dr. bloor says:

    Fortunately for them, our democracy is bust-ass broken.

  2. 2
    ItAintEazy says:

    I’m sure this will make a great investigative piece by a certain historic paper that brought down a presiden… oh.

    Fuggit.

  3. 3
    Warren Terra says:

    The allegations here are of outright fraud, of clear, unblushing criminality. It all sounds awful, and if the allegations are true I hope that severe punishments are meted out both on individuals and on the corporation.

    But these allegations shouldn’t distract us from the true scandal about Kaplan, that is to say all the things they do that aren’t illegal, but are nonetheless predatory and abusive, and the efforts of their newspaper to wield political influence to protect these vile endeavors.

  4. 4
    jo6pac says:

    This sounds an awful lot like something people would go to jail for in a functioning democracy.Yep I need to start one these so I don’t miss the free ride. I just think one o’s biggest friends is big believer in corp. schools and who wouldn’t be with profits like this.

  5. 5
    Ronnie Pudding says:

    But you can’t prosecute Kaplan because it would look political. Think of the reaction!

  6. 6
    Punchy says:

    Wait — This looks like you’re talking about Kaplan University, not Kaplan Test Prep. The former may be scumbaggish, but as a 10+ yr. employee of the latter, it’s nothing but a high-intensive (albeit expensive) and effective prep company.

  7. 7
    DougJ says:

    @Punchy:

    Yes, Kaplan University. I don’t know how the two are separated in terms of management structure, I just blockquoted the piece, which calls it Kaplan. They certainly mean Kaplan University.

    Maybe you should wait til Sully writes about this to learn about all the details, though.

  8. 8
    Calouste says:

    __

    This sounds an awful lot like something people would go to jail get shot for in a functioning democracy communist dictatorship.

    China does a better (or at least a more high profile) job on corporate fraud than the United States.

  9. 9
    Suffern ACE says:

    @DougJ: I don’t think they are related companies.

  10. 10
    DougJ says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    They are both owned by the Washington Post Company so they are at least somewhat related.

  11. 11
    Suffern ACE says:

    @DougJ: Yep. Sorry. They both are part of Kaplan Inc. Had to check S&P.

  12. 12
    RSA says:

    Holy crap.

    This is especially sad, I think, because it’s worse than your ordinary business rip-off–I imagine that most of these students are enrolling with aspirations to improve themselves, to change their lives for the better. They don’t have a clue, and Kaplan University is capitalizing on that.

  13. 13
    Punchy says:

    @DougJ: There’s a graph in that piece that shows how Kaplan Test Prep was about 33% of their profits just 5 years ago, dwarfed now by Kaplan Uni. They’re related companies, but I think in name only. Never been asked to move to the Uni side for teaching/tutoring. My guess is that they’re running their bullshit university on the rep of their respected monster prep company unit.

  14. 14
    AT says:

    Don’t worry the Post will be out for with an editorial calling for the need to cut spending on medicare/social security etc., but maybe not education as children being the future and all

  15. 15
    DougJ says:

    @Punchy:

    That’s my guess too. I don’t think this involves the test prep division per se.

  16. 16
    Nutella says:

    Note the graph on the first page of the HuffPo article. In 2009 almost all of the income of the Washington Post Company came from Kaplan University. None of it came from the newspaper which lost money.

    Every nickel paid to those neocon Galtians bloviating on the Washington Post editorial page about smaller government is 100% paid for by federal subsidies to Kaplan University.

  17. 17
    Suffern ACE says:

    @RSA: Not that we shouldn’t be used to this kind of thing, thanks to the banks and their mortgage incompetence, but this is actually similar to a retailer like Sears or JC Penney ensnaring it’s customers in the Nigerian 419 scam to make some extra dough.

    This is not how a “highly profitable” company operates; its how the Bonanno family operates.

  18. 18
    old time sake says:

    “…….people would go to jail for in a functioning democracy.”

    Please hold the above thought,
    only for old time sake.

    Because of breach of The Social Contract
    between the Government and the Governed
    we do not have a GOVERNMENT or LAW.

    For those who have money, power and influence
    there is no consequence for any act.

    There is no Government!
    There is no Law!
    There is no Crime.

    You have been informed!
    You have no Rights!
    Bend over!

  19. 19
    Cacti says:

    News stories should stop referring to Kaplan as “the highly profitable education arm of the Washington Post Co.”

    The Washington Post should be referred to as the unprofitable propaganda arm of Kaplan.

  20. 20
    Belvoir says:

    See? Privatizing education is the best of all possible worlds. Screw those loserish public schools. This is the Superman we’ve been waiting for!

    (Goes to consider the pistol in the study.)

  21. 21
    chris mohr says:

    @DougJ (quoting Atrios):

    The advisors routinely searched through students’ e-mails to look up their user names and passwords for Kaplan’s enrollment system, and then they used that information to sign in using multiple student identities, enrolling them in classes they never intended to join

    This is outright criminal fraud on multiple levels, in addition to several other actionable offenses of both a criminal and civil nature. Why aren’t these advisors being indicted and aggressively prosecuted RIGHT NOW? Why isn’t Kaplan on their way to being bankrupted by multiple lawsuits by the affected students?

    One perverse potential benefit of this farce would be if lawsuits brought by the affected students wound up bankrupting Kaplan, flushing the Washington Post and Fred Hiatt down with it. The students’ sacrifice in undergoing this imposition might actually do the country a great service and be worthwhile, if that unfolded.

  22. 22

    I’m just surprised the students and their families weren’t also signed up for lifetime subscriptions to the WaPo.

    The Washington Post should be referred to as the unprofitable propaganda arm of Kaplan.

    Love it. But hey, the Washington Times is the unprofitable propaganda arm of the Unification Church. It’s only fair that the Washington Post is kept afloat by a shady enterprise of its own.

  23. 23
    BC says:

    Hey, hey, hey, haven’t you seen the ads on television and on the blogs – don’t let the government decide who can go to college! Free market and all that bullshit, doncha know. I guess if patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, free market must come in second.

  24. 24
    AnotherBruce says:

    Where is their physical campus? (if it’s not all online) Giant posters and leaflets can do wonders to drive potential victims away from this scam.

  25. 25
    Carol says:

    The physical campus is in Iowa. But what I worry about is that there really is a need for online education. I enrolled in Kaplan (and flunked out) because at my age, and remembering the runaround I got trying to combine classes and a full-time job, I figured that Kaplan would at least help me finish without having to do the race from work to late-night classes then trying to take the bus home in time to go to work.

    However, the regular (non-profit) schools seem very uninterested in non-traditional students who need more flexible options than sitting in a classroom at inconvenient hours and having to work full-time as well. I tried the local University where I went before (Associate’s) and found the selections very limited in nature. (I wasn’t interested in fire fighting, for instance).

    Sometimes I think we need some sort of fusion between high school and college where people can simply keep going and get college credit as well and just let the usual tax structure pay for this sort of thing. Maybe grades 13-14 and just let college be the last 2 years. Or some way a person could pay extra tax and have that go towards tuition or something. Even trade work for college credits. Something that allows people to finish without too much debt, that can be flexible enough for working people and people wanting a second career.

  26. 26
    mclaren says:

    Between this and the previous article, it’s clear that America no longer builds anything or creates anything or performs any useful services: we’re all just stealing from one another and embezzling and lying to each other and ripping each other off.

    This is the road to Liberia. When a society comes apart at the seams like this, eventually it turns into Somalia.

    Emigrate now.

  27. 27
    Trinity says:

    I worked for this company from 2005-2006. I supported the head of the registration division whose title was… VP of SALES.

    Despicable business.

  28. 28
    RalfW says:

    Between this and JC’s post above it, I’ve decided to punish Baloonjuice for ruining my Christmas with all this freakin’ awful news of the total collapse of even a pretense of moral, ethical business practice: you’ll be sent to bed with no dinner, young man!

  29. 29
    Francis says:

    @Carol: Here in California, we have an extensive community college system that offers both traditional and distance learning programs on an open-admit, first-come first-served basis. If you live in a state that has a lousy community college system but you want a better education, MOVE. Get yourself to a state that values learning.

  30. 30
    trollhattan says:

    @Francis:

    Hear-hear. No matter how hard they smack our community colleges around budgetwise, they remain a vital, viable example of–yes, the horror–publicly funded ed-you-ka-shun. Enrollment is at an all-time high. Twenty-eight bucks a unit, generally transferrable to four-year universities.

  31. 31
    TooManyJens says:

    I move we start calling the Washington Post the Guerilla Registration Daily.

  32. 32
    Erik Vanderhoff says:

    I do not understand people who need test prep classes. I mean, standardized tests are easy-peasy, yo. Hell, you get points on the SAT for filling out the demographic section correctly.

  33. 33
    kc says:

    Most advisors had access to a company database that allowed them to view students’ e-mail correspondence without their knowledge

    Didn’t some kid just go to federal prison for viewing Sarah Palin’s email without her knowledge?

  34. 34
    Ken Pidcock says:

    Damn, just when I feared that not-for-profit higher education was becoming corrupt, somebody comes up with a whole new category. I notice that they couldn’t get anyone to defend them who wasn’t paid to do it.

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