Managing the ‘Strong versus the Weak’ – Lower Ed.

Go Lean Commentary

“A fool and his money are soon parted” – Ancient British proverb that gleans inspiration from The Bible book of Proverbs 26:1-11, with the meaning of:
1.   It is easy to get money from foolish people.
2.  It is difficult or unlikely that foolish people maintain their hold on acquired wealth.

Lower Ed - Photo 4

What’s ironic is there are similar colloquial expressions that are even more shocking for the prevalence of financial abuse of the unwise. Consider:

So who is more abominable? The fool who loses out on his new found fortune or the shrewd person that schemes to take advantage of that fool? (It should be noted in this case that the fortune is only rights and credits; every American citizen qualify for a need-based Student Loan from the federal government – that loan is non-dischargeable).

One commentator pushes this thesis even further, positing that:

“The ‘fools’ I think of are all rather harmless creatures, basically well-intentioned and innocent. All of them evoke a certain sense of pity, mixed with amusement.”

So imagine that one who exploits the “fool”! Imagine, if instead of an individual, it is a “system”, a government program, that does the exploiting. This is the actuality of Student Loan financing for Private, For-Profit Schools and Colleges in the US.

This is truly abominable; and yet this is the United States of America.

Say it ain’t so!

In a previous blog-commentary, the “abominable” judgment was even more direct:

The ‘Evil Empire‘ – For-Profit Educational firms and institutions – is finally facing resistance from governmental authorities. Companies in this industry have come under fire for their bad practices and abuse of their customers: young students.

… and now, today, ITT Educational Services, one of the largest operators of for-profit technical schools, ended operations at all of its ITT Technical Institutes.
Source: For-Profit Education – ‘Another one bites the dust’; posted September 6, 2016; retrieved April 26, 2017.

Lower Ed - Photo 3This commentary asserts that there is a need for the Caribbean communities to reform and transform our education deliveries, yet still, we do NOT want to model the American system. This point aligns with the book Go Lean…Caribbean, which seeks to reboot the 30 member-states of the Caribbean region, to ensure better stewardship of the Social Contract for all citizens in our homelands, strong and weak. The Go Lean book petitions the Caribbean region to do better! It describes the necessary empowerments to optimize the economic, security and governing engines of Caribbean society to ensure a better adherence to the principle of the Greater Good.

In a previous 5-part series of blog-commentaries on the “Strong versus the Weak”, the pattern from the Code of Hammurabi was detailed and presented as an Old World model that is being ignored in the US. The one place we would expect to find mitigations for foolishness – to turn the foolish one wise – would be the education arena. Yet this is where we are finding a consistent pattern of the “Strong abusing the Weak”.

This commentary is an addition submission to that already completed series; we are adding this 6th entry. The full series is now as follows:

  1.  Managing the Strong versus the Weak – Model of Hammurabi
  2.  Managing the Strong versus the Weak – Mental Disabilities
  3.  Managing the Strong versus the Weak – Bullying in Schools
  4.  Managing the Strong versus the Weak – Book Review: Sold-Out!
  5.  Managing the Strong versus the Weak – An American Sickness
  6.  Managing the Strong versus the Weak – Book Review: Lower Ed!

Lower Ed - Photo 1The need for this 6h entry was spurred by the release of this new book on February 28, 2017 entitled: Lower Ed – The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy by Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom (Ph.D. Sociology who teaches at Virginia Commonwealth University). It is ‘spot-on’ for the judgment of the pattern of abuse of the ‘Weak’ in American society who are innocently looking for “pull themselves up by the boot strap”. See the review-synopsis of this book here following by an PODCAST-interview with the Author:

Book Review: Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy
“With great compassion and analytical rigor, Cottom questions the fundamental narrative of American education policy, that a postsecondary degree always guarantees a better life.” – The New York Times Book Review

More than two million students are enrolled in for-profit colleges, from the small family-run operations to the behemoths brandished on billboards, subway ads, and late-night commercials. These schools have been around just as long as their bucolic not-for-profit counterparts, yet shockingly little is known about why they have expanded so rapidly in recent years —during the so-called Wall Street era of for-profit colleges.

In Lower Ed Tressie McMillan Cottom — a bold and rising public scholar, herself once a recruiter at two for-profit colleges—expertly parses the fraught dynamics of this big-money industry to show precisely how it is part and parcel of the growing inequality plaguing the country today. McMillan Cottom discloses the shrewd recruitment and marketing strategies that these schools deploy and explains how, despite the well-documented predatory practices of some and the campus closings of others, ending for-profit colleges won’t end the vulnerabilities that made them the fastest growing sector of higher education at the turn of the twenty-first century. And she doesn’t stop there.

With sharp insight and deliberate acumen, McMillan Cottom delivers a comprehensive view of post-secondary for-profit education by illuminating the experiences of the everyday people behind the shareholder earnings, congressional battles, and student debt disasters. The relatable human stories in Lower Ed—from mothers struggling to pay for beauty school to working class guys seeking “good jobs” to accomplished professionals pursuing doctoral degrees—illustrate that the growth of for-profit colleges is inextricably linked to larger questions of race, gender, work, and the promise of opportunity in America.

Drawing on more than one hundred interviews with students, employees, executives, and activists, Lower Ed tells the story of the benefits, pitfalls, and real costs of a for-profit education. It is a story about broken social contracts; about education transforming from a public interest to a private gain; and about all Americans and the challenges we face in our divided, unequal society.

Source: Posted and Retrieved 04-26-2017 from:

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AUDIO Podcast – Terry Gross with Tressie McMillan Cottom – Heard on Fresh Air

Mental Photo 4March 27, 2017 – For-profit colleges have faced federal and state investigations in recent years for their aggressive recruiting tactics — accusations that come as no surprise to author Tressie McMillan Cottom.
Cottom worked as an enrollment officer at two different for-profit colleges, but quit because she felt uncomfortable selling students an education they couldn’t afford. Her new book, Lower Ed, argues that for-profit colleges exploit racial, gender and economic inequality.
Cottom tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that for-profit institutions tend to focus their recruiting on students who qualify for the maximum amount of student aid. “That happens to be the poorest among us,” she says. “And because of how our society is set up, the poorest among us tend to be women and people of color.”

Notice this small sample of the book’s revelations and disclosures, symptomatic of Crony-Capitalism:

  • A peer-reviewed analysis, with over 100 interviews – with students, employees, executives, and activists – the story is consistently reflective of a sad, abusive American eco-system.
  • Big-money industry using shrewd recruitment and marketing strategies to tempt the most vulnerable in society.
  • Despite well-documented predatory practices and some well-publicized campus closings, ending for-profit colleges won’t end the vulnerabilities that made them the fastest growing sector of higher education.
  • The weakest in American society – single mothers, systematically poor, underserved and under-privilege – are the ones targeted, exploited and abused – again and again.
  • The growth of for-profit colleges is inextricably linked to larger questions of race, gender, work, and the promise of opportunity in America.

This commentary and the previous 5 commentaries in this series all relate to nation-building, stressing the community ethos necessary to forge a society where all the people are protected all the time. Who really is the fool in these scenarios? The person being abused by the American eco-system or the ones abandoning home to join that society. The premise in the Go Lean book and subsequent blog-commentaries is that the people of the Caribbean can more easily “proper where planted” in their homeland than to emigrate to the American foreign shores for relief. It is foolish to think that America cares about “us”, when they undoubtedly do not care about the “weak” in their own society.

We need more education in our region; because we need economic growth. Economists have established the relationship between economic growth and education:

“For individuals this means that for every additional year of schooling they increase their earnings by about 10%. This is a very impressive rate of return.” (Go Lean book Page 258).

A lot of Caribbean students do matriculate in American colleges and universities. But this commentary is hereby declaring that we must assuredly look beyond the American model to fulfill our educational needs. According to the foregoing book and AUDIO Podcast, only a fool would invest in American For-Profit private educational institutions.

The word “invest” seems so misplaced. No wonder we have such a poor “Return on our Investment” from our Caribbean students studying abroad. (So many times, they do not even return “home”.)

This is already a familiar thesis for the Go Lean movement – a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU) – as the Go Lean book advocates establishing local educational options mostly in response to the failings of the “study abroad model”. We have problems with the American quality education in the For-Profit institutions and we have problems with the threat of further brain-drain. See more details from the book here:

10 Ways to Improve Education – Page 159.
# 2 – Promote Industries for e-Learning
For 50 years the Caribbean has tolerated studying abroad; unfortunately many students never returned home. The CU’s focus will now be on facilitating learning without leaving. There have emerged many successful models for remote learning using electronic delivery or ICT. The CU will foster online/home school programs, for secondary education, to be licensed at the CU level so as to sanction, certify, and oversee the practice, especially for rural areas/islands. At  the tertiary level, the CU will sponsor College Fairs for domestic and foreign colleges that deliver online education options.

We need more e-Learning options in our Caribbean homeland, for all education levels: K-12 and college. There are many successful models and best practices to adopt. We are in position to pick, choose and refuse products and services from all our foreign trading partners, including from the US. (We must assuredly avoid their societal defects).

One successful model is “iReady” – see more in the Appendix below.

The US, despite its advanced democracy status, has definite societal defects in the education arena. Overcoming the defects – particularly Crony-Capitalism or exploiting public resources for private gains – make depending on American solutions, foolish.

The Go Lean roadmap seeks to transform the Caribbean education deliveries There are so many successful role models to emulate. Yet still, this will be hard. So many in our society hold the default view:

White is Right

Therefore these one may rather spend their education monies abroad in the US than to engage in a local empowerment plan. That is so foolish!

So yes, the transformation will be hard, heavy-lifting, but not foolish! It will engage all 3 societal engines: economic, security and governance. In fact, the prime directives of the Go Lean/CU roadmap includes the following 3 statements:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus – including emergency management – to ensure public safety and protect the resultant economic.
  • Improve Caribbean governance for all people – with empowerments like education – to support these engines.

This comprehensive view – economics, security and governance – is the charge of the Go Lean roadmap, opening with these pro-education pronouncements in the Declaration of Interdependence (Page 13):

xix. Whereas our legacy in recent times is one of societal abandonment, it is imperative that incentives and encouragement be put in place to first dissuade the human flight, and then entice and welcome the return of our Diaspora back to our shores …

xxi. Whereas the preparation of our labor force can foster opportunities and dictate economic progress for current and future generations, the Federation must ensure that educational and job training opportunities are fully optimized for all residents of all member-states, with no partiality towards any gender or ethnic group… This responsibility should be executed without incurring the risks of further human flight, as has been the past history.

So any tertiary education plan for the Caribbean must address the preponderance to exacerbate the brain drain. Going to an American For-Profit institution would just be foolish. We, as a community, would be spending good money, but getting bad returns. What’s worst, imaging getting student loans to finance that education? How likely would there be a “Return on Investment”?

Overall, the Go Lean book stresses the community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to reboot, reform and transform tertiary education delivery in the Caribbean; see this expressed in this one advocacy here:

10 Ways to Impact Student Loans – Page 160

1 Embrace the advent of the CU Single Market to leverage across the 42 million people in the 30 member-states.
2 Buy Existing Loans
3 Loan Forgiveness
4 Deferments / Postponements
5 Non-Dischargeable with Bankruptcy
6 Forgivable with Death and Organ Transplantation Dynamics
7 Diaspora Eligibility for CU Institutions
8 Grace Periods
9 Public – Private servicers
10 Lessons from Occupy Wall Street (OWS) The OWS protest movement highlighted some legitimate issues with the student loan industry. The US Federal government provides guarantees on student loans (direct and indirect), and the loans are non-dischargeable in any Bankruptcy process, so private loan issuers were assured a profit. The issuers would therefore drive the industry to lend more and more to less capable students at high interest rates. As a result of the protest, the Obama Administration eliminated the indirect channel for student loan, taking the profit motive out of the process; (See more in Appendix IH of the Go Lean book on Page 286). The CU [model] will only direct lend.

The points of effective, technocratic stewardship of tertiary education and student loans were further elaborated upon in previous blog/commentaries. Consider this sample: “Why”, “How”  and “When” to Transform Caribbean Universities A Model from Failing Detroit – Make Community Colleges free A Lesson in Economic Fallacies – Student Loans As Investments For-Profit Education: Plenty of Profit; Little Education FAMU – Finally, A Model for Facilitating Economic Opportunity Is a Traditional 4-year Degree a Terrible Investment? Student debt holds back many would-be home buyers

There is an absolute abomination of the “strong abusing the weak” in the American eco-system. We must avoid this American pattern; it may even be necessary to avoid America when it comes to our tertiary education needs.

“We can do bad all by ourselves”.

We have so many options elsewhere. The Go Lean plan is to create the better options here in the Caribbean; if not in your homeland, then perhaps in the next one, to the left or to the right.

It is not hard to do better than the American For-Profit model. Since many times in the past American abuse has proliferated, for those weaker physically, mentally and economically. The movement behind the Go Lean/CU roadmap wants us, in the Caribbean, to do better. Yes, let’s be wise!

Education can be so beneficial to our communities. But let’s not be the fool! Let’s keep “it” here at home and let’s “weed out” any bad practices of Crony-Capitalism in our tertiary education delivery system. Let’s pursue the Greater Good (greatest good to the greatest number of people which is the measure of right and wrong).

Now is the time to lean-in to this Go Lean roadmap to reboot, reform and transform Caribbean education. If we do this, we will make the Caribbean a better place to live, work, learn and play. 🙂

Download the free e-book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

Sign the petition to lean-in for the roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.


Appendix VIDEO – Intro to/Login for iReady –

Published December 15, 2016 – iReady Teacher providing instructions for logging on.
See Video recording of a sample lesson here:


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