Tuesday, March 28, 2017

“Even more cynical than
the for-profit colleges”

From a Fresh Air interview with Tressie McMillan Cottom about her book Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy (New Press, 2017). Terry Gross has asked Cottom whether Trump University fits the description of a for-profit college:

No, no, no. In many ways, Trump University is even more cynical than the for-profit colleges that I talk about and write about. And this is what I mean by that: Trump University didn’t even pretend to set up an actual school. What Trump University really did was it traded on the public’s faith in the word university and used the word university as part of its brand. But there was no campus, for example; they never pursued any license to actually operate as a school. One of the best ways actually to think about Trump University is that it was a lot like a time-share sales organization than it was an actual school.

But what I think that Trump University does tell us about this administration is sort of how cynical they are about higher education. It tells us something, I think, about their position on public higher education. I think that they have signaled pretty strongly that they are not interested in defending public higher education as important to democracy and the public good. And I think this president’s experience with sort of using the word university, trading so cynically on the public’s faith in the word university, kind of gives us an indication of how he views higher education.
[My transcription and paragraphing.]