The power-philanthropist and wife of multi-billionaire Bill Gates, announced Friday that she was resigning immediately from The Post’s board of directors. Her presence on the board apparently created another conflict of interest for the Foundation, which seems to have COFs everywhere.
Melinda's resignation comes on the heels of the release of a report, funded partly by her foundation, which compares for-profit colleges to subprime-mortgage lenders that prey on low-income and minority students. WaPo gets more than half of its revenues from its for-profit higher-education unit, Kaplan, one of world's largest testing companies, which is also a huge player in the for-profit college and lending business. Over the last decade, Kaplan has moved aggressively into for-profit higher education, acquiring 75 small colleges and starting the mega-online Kaplan University.
The report, “Subprime Opportunity,” authored by the Gates-Funded Education Trust, says that low-income students make up half of the enrollment at for-profit colleges and Blacks, Latinos and American Indians comprise 37 % and that the student-debt loads these students is much higher than at traditional universities.
|Power couple Melinda & Bill|
This, even though the Post's Kaplan education unit has come under harsh scrutiny with news reports quoting former Kaplan employees who said that they had been instructed to use the Gates name to persuade students to take classes at the company.
A 2010 undercover investigation by the GAO of 15 for-profit colleges found that recruiters for all of them, including Kaplan, made deceptive statements to prospective students. GAO videotaped a Kaplan recruiter addressing an applicant’s worries about paying back student loans: “I owe $85,000 to the University of Florida. Will I pay it back? Probably not.”
WaPo's board now has 11 members, including Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway company owns about 24 percent of the paper. Buffett is Bill Gates' partner in the giant foundation, contributing more than $30 billion to the enterprise.