Tuesday, July 25, 2006

School of Hard Knocks

A few years back, my supervisor approached me and asked if I'd be willing to have someone come and lecture my students on better ways for them to seek employment after they'd left high school. I said fine, and a couple of guys showed up in my classroom a few weeks later.

The first thing they did was pass out cards, on which my kids filled out their phone numbers. They then proceeded to give a hard-sell lecture to the kids about their two-year college, in which they offered associate degrees, and for which financial aid was available. I was amazed these guys had the audacity to do such a blatant bait-and-switch. I told them not to come to any of my other classes.

I reported this to my supervisor, who watched them lecture someone else's class, but for reasons that defy my comprehension, did not see what I found objectionable. They were allowed to continue visiting other teachers' classes, and return year after year.

The next day, and whenever I heard they were visiting, I told all my students that the good folks from the Interboro Institute were a couple of con artists, and that they'd be far better off going to a community college if they wanted an associate degree. They were significantly cheaper, and equally, if not more valuable.

Now the New York Times reports that not only did they do what I saw, but they paid their crack scorers 50 bucks a pop to pass students who didn't merit it. This qualified them for the loans that, apparently, are the lifeblood of this great institution. So remember, anything that sounds too good to be true, is. And anything that doesn't even sound very good in the first place, isn't.

As teachers, though, it's our job to warn our kids, who are often too young and naive to know the difference.
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