Friday, February 22, 2019

Western State College of Law in receivership; students left high and dry

We may be witnessing the ninth closure of a law school in recent years. Über-toilet Western State College of Law, located in Irvine, California, fell into the clutches of Dream Center, "a faith-based nonprofit" that appears to be serving God and Mammon. The subsidiary Dream Center Education Holdings bought up dozens of private institutions of so-called higher education all over the US, including Western State, but has lately fallen into federal receivership. Congresswoman Katie Porter, herself a professor of law at UC Irvine, accuses the Dream Center chain of having "defrauded students … across the country"; she vows to hold "these con artists" accountable.

The students at Western State have not received the financial aid that they have been awaiting since January. Some $9 million in funds to "Argosy University", which includes Western State, have vanished. Many students cannot cover living expenses such as rent and food.

Dream Center bought Western State just over a year ago but has been disappointed with an alleged shortfall in revenue. Porter, to her credit, pulls no punches: "Predatory actors like Argosy have been given free rein by the Trump Administration and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to make a quick buck at students’ and taxpayers’ expenses. The Department of Education has taken aggressive steps to deregulate for-profit universities, encouraged institutions to lie about their accreditation statuses, and left students vulnerable to fraudulent groups." I wish her every success in her efforts to stop the higher-ejookayshun scam in general and the law-school scam in particular.

As for the students, I'm afraid they have only themselves to blame. They should have expected a bad result from their über-toilet, even before it was bought out by this god-bothering non-profit outfit. The median LSAT score is 148, more than a quarter of the graduates are unemployed ten months after graduation, and the debt-financed cost of attendance stands at $282k.

Western State, it seems, cannot be long for this world. When it does go tits up, any remaining students should look into their rights to walk away from their debt. The public shouldn't have to pay for their folly, but they would be stupid to double down by transferring to another über-toilet.


  1. Toilets were stealing from students and taxpayers and folding before Trump. They will continue to do so after Trump until the CONGRESS does something to cut off the student loan spigot. Ms. Porter went straight from HLS to U of Iowa law and then to Irvine, arriving in California as a carpetbagger with an appointed job from Karmala Harris. When I see her introduce legislation that will have an effect on every law school in the bottom half as measured by LSAT scores I will start taking her seriously. All she is doing now is political grandstanding, naming as many political boogie men as she can fit into one sentence.

    1. Maybe it is just grandstanding. Still, I'm pleased to hear these scamsters called out as con artists and accused of fraud in so many words.

      Please note as well that she wasn't speaking of the law-school scam specifically, but rather of privately held schools generally. It just happens that one of the few dozen schools in the paws of this Dream Center racket is a law school.

      Being a law professor, however, she has a special responsibility to address the law-school scam. And she is at the notorious and unnecessary Johnny-come-lately Irvine, which predictably posed as innovative but merely went after a high ranking in US News (and didn't get it!).

    2. As has been discussed recently on this blog, the only difference between the for-profit toilets and not-for-profit toilets is how the scamsters get their ill-gotten gains out of their racket. Bloated salaries, dividends and eventual capital gain vs. very bloated salaries. Singling out for profits is phony, especially when coming from a faculty member at a non-profit toilet.

    3. @ Anonymous 6:46 AM - I was thinking the same exact thing and was hoping someone else would also point this out. She was using this more as an opportunity to bash her political opponent.

      For example....

      Anyone remember Corinthian College? That was a for-profit institution. It went defunct circa 2015 due to issues concerning misleading students, etc. Who was president? Obama. It is not his 'fault,' but where was she then?

      Similarly, remember ITT Technical Institute? In 2014 the CFPB pursued that school for using high-pressure sales tactics to get students into high interest students loans. It ceased operations, completely, in 2016. Who was President? Obama. Again, not his 'fault,' but where was she then.

      Nevertheless, I suppose some action is better than nothing.

    4. Where was she then? Not in Congress: she assumed office only last month. So there doesn't appear to be evidence of her "using this more as an opportunity to bash her political opponent". Maybe she is indeed just playing political games, but I won't accept that claim without evidence.

    5. “Where was she then? Not in Congress: she assumed office only last month.”

      I think my statement was read somewhat literally – and this could be poor wording on my part. What difference should it make whether she was in Congress? She has to be in Congress to give a shit about this? Think: Paul Campos; Brian Tamanaha; Old Guy. Were any of them in Congress to express their chagrin with the law school scam and make a difference?

      “So there doesn't appear to be evidence of her "using this more as an opportunity to bash her political opponent". “Maybe she is indeed just playing political games, but I won't accept that claim without evidence.”

      There absolutely is evidence. Let’s review. Here’s her quote:
      “Predatory actors like Argosy have been given free rein by the Trump Administration ….”

      Seriously? Given my specific citations, above, concerning ITT and Corinthian, she could have easily also said: “Predatory actors like ITT and Corinthian have been given free rein by the Obama administration….” But she expressly blames Trump. The point I am trying to make when I say 'where was she then' is that this has been ongoing for decades - as implied from a prior comment. This didn't magically appear when Trump took office.

      Make sense?

      For the record, I am absolutely thrilled she is pursuing these law school dirt bags. As well, I am glad this blog exists and I hope you never cease your mission. I am absolutely on board.

    6. It's true that the higher-ejookayshun scam didn't start with Trump. You're right about that. She was wrong to point to the current scamster-in-chief as if the previous six or seven (or more) hadn't also had a hand in the scam.

      The only exposure to post-secondary institutions that Old Guy got in high school was an assembly at which the whole school had to sit through a sales pitch from a for-profit outfit called the DeVry Institute of Technology. This DeVry scam-chain, which didn't even have a scam-school within a few hours of my little town, offered vocational training in fields such as printing and plumbing. I didn't understand what was going on at the time, but now I wonder whether the high school's administrators weren't getting a kickback.

      Today I also consider it appalling that the high school pointed everyone towards a vocational school (for-profit or otherwise) without saying anything about universities and other options. The students at that school, and many others like it, were simply written off. I was surprised, many years later, to read that the Harvards send admissions officers to visit various élite high schools (notably private boarding schools and also the public schools in upper-class areas). Not even the small colleges within a few hours visited my high school. I didn't even know how to apply to universities; I got no guidance at all.

      Anyway, the higher-ejookayshun scam is indeed decades old (though its full flowering is more recent), and acting as if Trump and cronies had introduced it is very unhelpful.

    7. I'm not so sure DeVry is a scam. I can't speak to it from personal knowledge but I have seen many people who went to for-profit trade schools who make better money than many if not most solo lawyers. The American education system is sorely lacking in vocational education and I'd say if for-profits are the ones getting the job then so be it. I've seen a lot of people go through pubic vocational high schools who, due mostly to issues of maturity, graduate incapable of handling their supposed trade. I've even seen some of them go to a for-profit for the training they got for free and blew off in high school. People who are paying for the training tend not to do that.

      If it makes you feel better, I went to a Catholic college prep high school in the Boston area. Not college prep as in Philips Andover, just a day school that offered only college prep classes. None of the myriad schools around eastern Massachusetts ever visited us. I'd imagine it was too inefficient for recruiters to talk to 750 people of whom only a few were both interested and qualified, and if we were constantly pulled out of class for sales pitches I can't imagine we'd have learned much.

    8. When you mentioned DeVry, I was reminded of another so-called vocational school. Westwood College - I believe they operated mainly in the Midwest. They apparently issued degrees in "Criminal Justice Studies."

      The Illinois Attorney General had to get involved.

      * Attorney General Lisa Madigan today moved to intervene in a lawsuit to assure that federal recognition of a national accreditor of many of the worst schools in the for-profit industry remains revoked.

      * ACICS accredited many for-profit schools that engaged in fraudulent activity by churning out worthless degrees that left students without jobs in their field but saddled with mountains of debt

      * [M]any Illinois schools, including Everest Colleges, Westwood College and ITT Technical Institute

      * “ACICS gave legitimacy to for-profit schools that have left millions of students with useless degrees, astronomical levels of debt and poor job prospects,” Madigan said

      Years earlier, Madigan had settled a case against Westwood, circa 2015, whereby they agreed to forgive millions in student loans

      Westwood College to forgive $15M in loans to criminal justice students$15m-in-student-loans/1068354/

      * The Illinois attorney general has reached a multimillion-dollar agreement with Westwood College.

      * "It's like we wasted all this time for nothing," said Kamilah Dew.
      Chicagoans Kamilah Dew and her cousin Jamaal Jones dropped out of Westwood College's criminal justice program after finding out it wasn't regionally accredited and was being sued by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

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