If you're worried that a private postsecondary school you are considering might be a "diploma mill," here are some warning signs.
In general, the institutions are unaccredited, operate for-profit, grant academic degrees and offer substandard or minimal teaching, with little, if any, work or evidence of competency, said Steve Boilard, managing principal analyst for education at the Legislative Analyst's Office.
Cailin Peterson, a spokeswoman for the Better Business Bureau serving northeast California, testified at a hearing to lawmakers in Sacramento Wednesday on the issue of diploma mills.
She provided the following warning signs:
- The recruiter uses high-pressure sales tactics, especially with younger students.
- The recruiter exaggerates the possible income or job you could end up with or the cost is higher than other places. Peterson said one place was charging $14,000 for a massage therapy certificate that could have been obtained at a community college for $250.
- Look for schools that are unaccredited or ones that claim accreditation through fraudulent institutions."Whether or not the school tells you it's accredited, look at the accrediting institution, look at the standards used to become accredited," Peterson said.
- If the degree program seems too fast, too easy, there's probably a reason why.
- The recruiter encourages you to lie on your financial aid form to qualify.
JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP/Getty Images
California lawmakers are exploring the problem of diploma mills — businesses that offer fraudulent degrees and certificates for little to no work and an often significant fee — and trying to determine how best to identify and root them out without quashing innovation.
"Substandard education robs students of their time and money, but customers of diploma mills are more likely to be complicit," said Democratic Assemblyman Roger Dickinson of Sacramento, who chairs the Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review.
"The most serious consequences occur when individuals with fake credentials are hired into positions for which they are not qualified, and in doing so, take away positions from people who have earned the degrees."
At a nearly 2.5-hour joint hearing of the Assembly's committees on Accountability and Administrative Review and Higher Education Wednesday lawmakers listened to expert testimony that seemed to lead to many more questions than answers.
One of the few exhibitors that offer healthy fundraising for public schools at the annual statewide PTA convention in Long Beach.
Thousands of PTA members from across the state are meeting in Anaheim for their annual convention, and California's PTA is spending the week pushing hard for its first ballot measure to raise money for schools.
“Good afternoon PTA!”
State schools' chief Tom Torlakson welcomed parents and educators to the three-day convention in Anaheim — just a stone’s throw from the “Happiest Place on Earth.” He dove straight into one of the saddest issues for schools: anemic funding.
"Changes are happening," said Torlakson. "They’re detrimental changes in terms of the cutbacks — cutbacks of equipment, cutbacks of the school year, cutbacks of the school day and cutbacks on some of the great programs. [...] Music and drama are getting squeezed back out of our curriculum in many respects."
Torlakson said he came to mobilize members to spread the word about the PTA’s first ballot initiative. It’s aimed at restoring arts programs and physical education, among other programs.
Ari Lynn Day/Flickr
A sky view of Cal State Fullerton. One out of every three graduating seniors at Cal State Fullerton identifies as Hispanic, making it the top CA school to award diplomas to Hispanics.
For the second year in a row, Cal State Fullerton is the top California school to award bachelors degrees to Hispanics. One out of three students walking out with a diploma identifies as Hispanic.
The latest issue of "Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education" studied data from the US Department of Education and found that almost 2,000 Hispanics earned their bachelor’s degrees at Cal State Fullerton.
That’s number four on a list of 100 colleges trying to reduce the Latino college dropout rate nationwide. Within California, Cal State Fullerton is at the top.
Hispanics make up the fastest-growing ethnic population in the state, but only about half graduate from high school. They often end up in service jobs or doing other unskilled labor.
As a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Cal State Fullerton gets federal grants to boost its Latino enrollment to more than a quarter of the student body, and to develop programs to bridge the gap in educational achievement.
Jordon Cooper/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)
Los Angeles Superior Court
All 13 Informal Juvenile and Traffic Courts are scheduled to close June 15 and those cases instead routed through adult traffic courts or to the Probation Department as part of an effort to contend with deep state funding cuts and reduce the Los Angeles County Superior Courts spending by $30 million.
The change means 65,000 cases that involve typically lower-level offenses that students are cited for in and around school campuses, for example daytime curfew violations or disorderly conduct, will be sent to the Probation Department, which can determine whether to dismiss them, divert them, or send them onward to the District Attorney for filing, said Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Michael Nash.
Nash said the Probation Department is working on developing a plan as to how it will deal with the influx of juvenile cases.