Friday, January 4, 2013

Things get too hot for Melinda at WaPo. She quits the board.

Things are getting so hot over at WaPo's board, what with all these investigations of Kaplan, Inc.going on, that Melinda Gates had to bail, and in a hurry. The Post says, she gave no reason for her quick exodus while a family spokesman said she wanted to spend more time than before working and traveling for the Gates Foundation. That's a load of horse manure.

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
But Melinda Gates herself, remains uncritical of Kaplan's policies. She issued a statement saying she's "impressed with The Washington Post Company's work with Kaplan, whose new approaches to education are allowing students opportunities that would otherwise not be possible." Bill Gates’ review of “Change.edu” (Kaplan Publishing) lauds Kaplan, Inc. CEO Andrew Rosen for making “a persuasive case” that traditional colleges are doing a poor job serving non-traditional students. Gates finds Rosen’s “insights truly important.”

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.

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