For Profit Schools Redux?

The headlines caught my attention “ For Profit U.S. Colleges Attract Investor Interest”. After the debacle of Corinthians schools, ITT and De Vries, where thousands of students were left hanging owing money or holding useless degrees, the mere indication that for profit schools are having another round sends a red flag. It was a short article in the business section of Reuters News Service talking about two for pro profit schools companies, Strayer Education Inc and Capella Education Co, having made better than expected gains on their returns and how their shares had gained even more after reporting their quarterly results a few days before. It’s enough, for me at least, to feel alarmed, particularly given the tenor of the times where public education is not, as it was not long ago, considered a must as part of our society and culture. The stock market exists to increase investors’ capital. I grant that premise. Still increasing capital in ways that are not productive for the society of which it is a part is something that ought to give all of us pause. I doubt socially conscious funds would include them in their portfolio. And that’s precisely the idea we need to think about. How many of us want to make money either out of the misery of others of causing misery to some? And if this were not enough, then there’s another idea worth pondering, that education and profits are not a good mix.