I received a perplexing email this week. It read:

Hi. I am xxxxx-xxxxxx from WebSponsors. My company represents a leader in online criminal justice degrees.
They would like to buy a simple text ad on the bottom of your page (https://prisonphotography.wordpress.com/2009/02/28/the-feedback-of-exile-interview-with-stephen-tourlentes/). It would look like…
“criminal justice” or “justice degrees” — with a link to our client’s site.
We can pay $84 via PayPal ASAP for this ad.
Please let me know if you are interested. Thanks for your time & consideration.

I politely declined.

I am alarmed by the rise of for-profit education in the US, and I am particularly offended by online education. Not being in a classroom with a teacher and peers denies the personal exchange of ideas which is, in my opinion, the most valuable aspect of education.

I’m doubly offended by the rise of (what some refer to as) “cop schools.” They feed the bloated prison industrial complex and do nothing to question the broken policies that created the obese, expensive and overly punitive systems.

Read this article from the New York Times:

The report,“Subprime Opportunity” (PDF) by the Education Trust, found that in 2008, only 22 percent of the first-time, full-time bachelor’s degree students at for-profit colleges over all graduate within six years, compared with 55 percent at public institutions and 65 percent at private nonprofit colleges.

Among Phoenix’s online students, only 5 percent graduated within six years, and at the campuses in Cleveland and Wichita, Kan., only 4 percent graduated within six years.

“For-profits proudly claim to be models of access in higher education because they willingly open their doors to disadvantaged, underprepared students.” said José L. Cruz, a vice president for the trust. “But we must ask the question, ‘Access to what?’ ”