In Response to The Chronicle

Kevin, Kevin, Oh Kevin …

First your tie now your facts …

Before we attempt to address your near-truths, let me say I don’t recall any time during our private calls that you were going to use them against me … when we set up our new journalism school I will make sure we graduate students with integrity in this area … but since I have nothing to hide it is no big deal between us … call any time … turn on a recording device next time if you so desire … it helps with memory and keeping facts straight …

After discussing your above attempt with some pals, here is our collective initial thoughts/comments for anyone who cares:

It is because I respect you, Kevin Carey and his portfolio of work over the past couple of years that I’m completely baffled by this most recent column.

Instead of your typical differentiated analysis, Mr. Carey has opted to parrot the thoughts of others when commenting on private sector funded schools.

Kevin, you are too-too good to get lazy…check your facts!!!

There are many problems in his post, but perhaps the most egregious flaw in his rant remains the absence of commenting on the efficacy of these institutions in EDUCATING students.

Call my thought-group crazy, but we thought the point of higher education was to E-D-U-C-A-T-E.

How do institutions funded by the private sector compare to others in the various quantitative metrics the government uses to define excellence and inferior programs in terms of educating students?

Mr. Carey, a default rate is a financial metric, not an academic one. The reality is that you nor I nor Senator Harkin nor Secretary Duncan have any idea as to how effective these institutions are in increasing cognitive skills or enhancing knowledge to be used in the workplace.

Instead of adding to the issue with his usual wit, Mr. Carey assumes (as unfortunately too many people do) that higher education should be measured by inputs rather than outputs. Mr. Carey teaches at Johns Hopkins, one of our country’s finest institutions.

But Johns Hopkins isn’t burdened by a focus on serving nontraditional students at night, lower to middle income working adults who likely tried higher education and failed at it. A segment of the population likely to default on loans.

Mr. Carey seems to believe, as others do, that the fault remains with the institution rather than the constituency that it serves.

Is Johns Hopkins a "better" institution than most private sector schools because it trains the best and the brightest that our country has to offer, rather than low income, often minorities, who either failed the first time around or didn’t even have a chance at all post high-school? I think, the last time I checked, that Hopkins was primarily upper middle class unemployed 18 to 24 white females?

Kevin, when you teach – how do you know your students have learned what you taught? Might I have a team audit your outcomes and assessments the next class you teach? And at what expense – including all the donations and government subsidies?

On a final note because the beach calls today, Mr. Carey attempts to humanize the industry by pointing fingers at Michael Clifford, in the very same way that Frontline did not so long ago (oh, wasn’t the funding for Frontline the same pay masters as Kevin’s?).

Interestingly, Mr. Carey mentions Corinthian Colleges as a bad apple that "estimates that more than half the loans it makes to its own students will go bad."

Funny, but Mr. Clifford doesn’t own Corinthian Colleges. Mr. Clifford did take private Phoenix-based Grand Canyon University, an institution that has a lower 2007 cohort default rate (1.4%) than Arizona State University (3.4%) at half the cost.

Mr. Carey doesn’t mention that "Doctor" Clifford [full disclosure, a friend], as part of his BUSINESS strategy, differentiates his institutions by charging AFFORDABLE tuition rates relative to other schools including private sector schools like the University of Phoenix.

Kevin, remember I told you I try to incorporate our Four Gospels of Higher Education into every school we have any influence over whether a for profit we invest in or non profit to which we donate….they are:

1. Full & Equal Access – Giving every student who is willing to make the required effort the opportunity to acquire a quality college education.

2. Affordable – Lowering tuition and fees so the focus is on getting an education, not financing an education.

3. Timely & Relevant – Facilitating faster completion with lower debt and equipping graduates with relevant, real-world skills.

4. Purposeful & Ethical – Equipping graduates with a strong ethical moral compass with a willingness to help others. We are in business to help people live better lives via education globally.

To be fair to Mr. Carey, everybody makes mistakes from time to time…I have made more than most…Kevin Carey is still all in all a very smart man.


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