Even if you’re a really, really corrupt state, like Florida…

… how much are you willing to overlook?

Okay, you’re willing to overlook the fact that your lieutenant governor for years claimed a degree from a notorious diploma mill (she even used to be on the National Commission on Presidential Scholars!)… But, as UD has often told you, scummy things like diploma mill degrees – and plagiarized articles and all – can be symptoms of, er, a broader outlook on life…

And so it appears to be with the aforementioned lieutenant governor, for whom fraud turns out to be a way of doing business. She has just resigned in disgrace.

Really, if Florida had had enough self-respect to reject a diploma mill fraudster in the first place, they wouldn’t now be dealing with this much higher-level embarrassment.

On the other hand, it’s clear that Florida is way past caring about things like this.

The criminals who run South Carolina State University…

… are just beginning to be rounded up. Stay tuned.

This is so “meta” …

… that even UD, who prides herself on her grasp of our simulacral world, is having a little trouble.

It’s a diploma mill in Wyoming — nothing to see there; hundreds of thousands of diploma mills operate all over the world, and Wyoming is one of the most pro-diploma-mill states in America (God forbid the feds interfere with private enterprise). But even by Wyoming’s give-a-shit standards, the gloriously named Degree in a Day (the website provided in the Star Tribune story no longer functions) represents a problem. Dig:

The website tells visitors that purchasers can receive diplomas “in the traditional university manner printed on traditional paper with traditional fonts in the traditional format,” plus official transcripts, signed letters of verification to for use with an employer and letters of recommendation from the dean and president.

Under a tab called, “About Degree in a Day,” the website says it “offers verifiable and authentic life experience degrees from our own ‘Anonymous Universities.’” It continues, “We will never publish the name or allow it to be associated with this site to anyone other than alumni. We do this to ensure our alumni can feel confident there will not be any negative press online about their degree.”

The website “gives examples of legitimate-appearing university websites that it promises to construct in order to give purchasers ‘further proof their degree is in fact authentic,’” according to the complaint.

So… UD‘s been trying to figure this one out. Here’s what she’s come up with. If she’s right about the business model, it represents an authentic advance in the industry.

As soon as a diploma mill’s name becomes known, it becomes notorious. Coverage of the scam will invariably refer to “the notorious degree mill, LaSalle University,” or whatever. In order to avoid instantly stigmatizing the millions of people who’ve gotten bogus degrees from this or that outfit, Degree in a Day will tailor-make a pretend online university just for you. It will come up with a name (the model assumes one will never run out of plausible-sounding university names, and this seems to UD a reasonable assumption) that will be known only to you and to the few to non-existent employers who ever bother to check your credentials.

One particularly brilliant aspect of this model involves (I assume) the ability at a moment’s notice to change the university from which you graduated. Once you’ve been run out of town because of the exposure of your fake Cambridgetown Institute of Technology degree, you can go back to Degree in a Day and have them construct Oxfordshire Institute of Technology.

An April Fool’s Joke in November….

… from the usually staid Chronicle of Higher Education.

Read the whole thing. Do not miss the videos.

Because every paragraph of it is good, it’s hard for UD to choose an excerpt. I guess this is her favorite:

Here’s the course description of “General Humanities II,” taught by Michael Coker, an English instructor at Western Oklahoma. “We start with the Renaissance and move to the present,” he says in an online video. “We cover art, culture, society, religion, politics. The humanities is a very broad topic, and we cover essentially everything that leads up to our modern society, the ideas that inform our modern world.”

Sounds like a really interesting class — but seven centuries in 50 hours? That may seem daunting, Mr. Coker acknowledges. “But I’ve designed the class to be doable in 10 days,” he says in the video. “If you don’t have a lot going on in those 10 days, the class is not overly difficult.”

There’s only one downside to this writer having so outdone himself. You can already see his piece for next year:

Some accreditors have questioned whether a ten-minute course on the decline of the Roman Empire can really legitimately cover the material. “It sounds daunting,” acknowledges its instructor, “but if you don’t have a lot going on in those ten minutes, it’s a cinch.”

Gawker Gawks at the Collapse of the For-Profit College Scam…

and so does UD. As Phoenix falls from its ashes, and as even scuzzier outfits make their way through the courts, it truly begins to look as though Americans have figured out how the tax-syphons work, and refused to play along.

“But Alpert’s promotion three weeks ago to acting captain of the police force of more than 1,700-officers required a more thorough review by the inspector general.”

UD has said it again and again on this blog: Go ahead and get your diploma mill degrees, but be sure not to rise too high in the world. UD has even specified how high you can rise before someone actually looks at the shit on your resume.

So. Let’s review:

Teacher, but not superintendent.

Police officer but not captain.

City council member but not mayor.

Mid-level but not chief bureaucrat.

How difficult is this to grasp? With fraudulent degrees, you’ll do fine, the two thousand dollars were well spent, but you’re going to have to spend your life under the radar. You’re not going to be able to rise. When you rise, people start paying attention.

‘Their chief executive officers were paid an average of $7.3 million, although Robert S. Silberman, the chief executive of Strayer Education, made $41 million in 2009, including stock options.’

The ed biz. Wow.

How to remain a bad university.

The University of the District of Columbia has responded to the discovery of three diploma mill grads on its faculty (it’s bad enough when, as at Ramapo College and Northeastern Illinois University, you’ve got one) with lethargy and defensiveness. They’ll… you know… look into it (others have done that for them, though of course it was UDC’s responsibility from the start to winnow faculty frauds); and hey “the university considers more than academic credentials when hiring faculty.”

This is the time-honored response of hapless organizations to diploma mill people — It doesn’t matter that we retain (at tax-payer expense, at UDC) people who’ve lied and cheated their way to a bogus degree in order to get a raise; we love other things about them.

Washington DC taxpayers are put-upon creatures in SO many ways…

… that UD supposes it doesn’t much matter that they’re also footing the bill for three diploma-mill fakes at the University of the District of Columbia.

It’s a case of what UD calls diploma milling — all three professors bought their PhD at the same diploma mill.

Diploma milling happens all the time. Colleagues at schools, in fire and police departments, in the military — all the bureaucracies where you can only get a serious raise if you have an advanced degree — recommend to one another a particular automatic-degree-dispenser. The three UDC professors with bogus degrees all work together, in the department of Criminal Justice, Sociology, and Social Work.

I guess it didn’t occur to them that someone – a reporter, in this instance – might find that coincidence worth pursuing.

Though UD is going to guess that someone inside UDC tipped off the reporter.

That’s usually how it happens. Someone inside the organization is royally pissed that while she worked hard and paid a lot of money for a legitimate degree, colleagues parted with a few thousand dollars and pressed the BUY YOUR PHD NOW!! button on their computer.

The Economist takes a peek at…

… the thriving Chinese diploma mill industry.

“The number of kids whose entire school experience is on a laptop on the kitchen table has topped 250,000 and is headed toward a half million in the next few years.”

And what a boon it is for the kiddies! No one to bother them with conversation, or, I don’t know, human activity, of any sort… Just left all alone in their rooms… For years and years and years…

Some old bugger from Boulder – Boulder! tree-hugger city! – wonders how many internet internees “survive the boredom and isolation of school on a laptop” and actually graduate (their cyber-keepers make drop-out stats hard to get). He reviews the scandals that occur when teachers are air traffic controllers and administrators hedgies.

Like a lot of people, this guy is beginning to notice the class-based nature of school on a laptop.

Slick TV ads and corporate hucksters would have us believe the online school can teach even better than the best traditional elementary and secondary schools the nation has to offer. Yeah, right. The day that Phillips Exeter Academy replaces its teachers with laptops is the day I might start to believe them.

More and more people realize that online school represents a perfect 1%/99% matchup – it makes the first group even richer, and keeps the second group in the pointless nothingness which is its lot in life.

See the images on the Exeter website? This is how I spend my day, says the featured student. Out and about in nature with my buddies, and then engrossed in fascinating classroom discussion… This is the best education possible, and your public school will in various ways of course fall short of it. But your cyber school? LOL.

You don’t need …

David Lynch to tell you that the weirdest shit in America goes down not in Washington DC, Land o’ Elites (Republican voters this time around seem determined to elect a President who’s never visited, let alone worked, in DC), but in what William Gass called the heart of the heart of the country (Lynch was born in Missoula).

In many years of blogging about universities, UD’s never seen one more unsettling, more surreal, than North Dakota’s Dickinson State. Here’s a post, from last year, about this school – its president at that time was hiding out from administrators trying to boot him from his office (his physical office – though fired, he refused to go)… The same president pioneered the ‘physical capture’ enrollment technique (maintain healthy numbers by enrolling anyone who, for whatever reason, even for a second, crosses into campus territory — a kind of eminent domain for the state of North Dakota involving human bodies instead of private property)…

Dickinson State fell out of the news for a few months – they seem to have convinced the president to get out – but crazy shit was still churning away, and now it’s hit the fan. For ten years the place has had a program for Chinese students – actual name, not kidding, Top Up, and Disney – where they bring these people over for seven months at Walt Disney World, and six at Dickinson State … dueling surrealities… I mean, imagine someone from China whose only exposure to the States is Dickinson State University, North Dakota, and Walt Disney World, Orlando…

Although Dickinson got rid of the eminent domain guy, the same enrollment approach – rope ’em any old way – has pertained, with Dickinson-deputized agents trolling China, telling people who can’t speak English that they can go to the United States and play in a theme park and get a degree.

That ain’t all. Things have taken on a real Blue Velvet tint with the suicide of a guy who’s maybe been running the show:

… Douglas LaPlante, 59, dean of education, business and applied sciences, was … found dead near a city park, apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Dickinson police said in a statement.

For-profit online universities. Why are there so many?

Because anyone can do it!

‘It’s unclear how many students pass the MCI certification. Bhushan, the agent, said 70 percent pass; Aidaraliev, the administrator, said 60 percent; and the Indian diplomat said 16 percent, calling that a massive improvement over recent years when only 1 percent passed: “The schools here are happy to take more students. They only want money. They have maybe 60 spots, but they take 250 students,” he said.’

The MCI is the Indian qualifying exam for doctors.

Kyrgyzstan hosts Indian med school students rejected from schools back home.

This is just the sort of sordid, convoluted…

… story UD lives for.

It’s got a dab of diploma mill and a pinch of plagiarism…

The longtime CEO of a behavioral-health agency in El Paso that receives millions annually in government grants holds a doctoral degree from an institution the federal government has called a diploma mill… [Cirilo] Madrid was paid about $100,000 over 13 months for the work he performed under the contract with [a firm under investigation for corruption]. The primary product of his work is a 20-page document, which included information he says in the deposition he lifted from other documents and did not give proper credit or attribution.

… Plus it’s got a whole lot of crony capitalism.

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