Blog: DOE Plays Toddler Games

By Michael Platt

When you are unable to win based on your own merits, just change the rules!!! It’s TODDLER GAMES. In 1992, the Department of Education (DOE) regulated hundreds of schools "to death," eliminating advancement through education as an option for so many inner-city areas.

Now that for-profit schools are once again thriving and serving those less fortunate, the DOE is pointing to debt repayment and … get ready — the evil profits these schools have earned — and once again threatening to change the rules. They are not missing the obvious point regarding the demographic served by the for-profits … they know THAT is the reason for higher defaults because they know how much more effective for-profit schools are than community colleges at enrolling, completing and placing students into gainful employment.

  • But, if you can’t successfully compete with the opposition having one hand tied behind their backs, tie their legs together. If they don’t like it, you can always take your ball (Title IV) and go home.
  • I know it hurts to lose game after game … I’m a New York Knicks fan … believe me, I understand. But learn from the for-profits and compete fairly. You already have the deck stacked so much in favor of the community colleges who don’t have to comply with half the regulations for-profit schools have to comply with, so figure out why you continue to fail? Then fix it. For-profits are far from perfect, but let me give you a few clues:
  • Your marketing is weak. People need to know that there are opportunities to improve their lives through education. You generally fail to communicate this, focusing your advertising on YOU instead of the perspective student.
  • Your geography suggests that you have little to no interest in serving those less fortunate as your campuses are predominately in the suburbs while those who need an education most are predominately in the inner-cities.
  • We are no longer a farming culture. People don’t stop learning in summer because they have to help bring in the crops. Your agrarian calendar hasn’t worked for 40 years. Try meeting the students where they need to be met and start classes quarterly or even monthly. You are still using the “academy” approach that Plato developed in Greece in 400 or 500 B.C. We aren’t throwing up one giant campus and saying, “COME HERE!” Our schools take a more street-side approach. We get out in the neighborhoods. We spread the word. We spread education to the people … not elitism!!!
  • The degrees you offer suggest you’d prefer to be a “University-Lite” (as in Miller-Lite). Stop teaching programs to help students learn for the sake of learning. Teach them a vocation … a trade. And please, open your eyes to those career fields that are hiring, not just the programs you want to teach. You need to move quickly to keep up with the demands of dynamic the 21st Century Workforce. Time to learn that to succeed, you must serve the students and employers, not the faculty and unions.
  • Finally, decide who you are. Are you a school 18 year-olds go to while they save for a real college? Are you a school that just teaches classes of interest to the community, like “Guitar” and “Golf”? Are you a university that works towards helping young adults secure a Bachelor’s degree? Are you a career education school focused on getting people trained and into the workplace? Jacks of all trades are masters to none. Pick a model and fight to be the best, or continue to serve too many masters and fail them all.

These tips are not designed to be sarcastic or point fingers (though sarcasm is part of my nature), but to offer the DOE something truly CONstructive so that they will stop the TODDLER GAMES which are simply DEstructive. Please consider focusing on suggestions like these before you again change the rules to help yourself win. Keep playing TODDLER GAMES, and it’s those in the inner-cities who will lose. Please, don’t make the innocent suffer because your game plan is weak and your execution weaker. Grow up. TODDLER GAMES are for toddlers.

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