For profit: our loss

I wrote last week about Brett Kavanaugh and Betsy DeVos and their war on public education.

Yesterday’s news cycle brought word of another private school shuttering its doors: Lincoln College of New England in Southington, Connecticut.

To be honest, I can’t claim public schools are exempt from closures: we have seen it happen in alarming proportions in rural and inner-city America. But the story of Briarwood is sadder than most.

Briarwood College was as close as anyone could come to a Mom and Pop endeavor with family ties that spanned generations. I went to work there as an instructor in 2005 and stayed on through 2009. I taught many highly motivated and intelligent young men and women, and of course, some who were filling space until they won the lottery. It was like any other school, except for my Saturday classes which comprised serious students eager to get ahead or to finish a program. Those hours were a joy.

Briarwood, which began in the sixties as a secretarial school, excelled in certain areas: mortuary science, for one. No other schools in the state offered the program. (Even so, I was glad to be an English teacher, lest they offer me some lab responsibilities.)

In the new millennium aspirations grew there—some expansion maybe, and a four-year program. Shortly thereafter Briarwood was purchased by Lincoln Educational Services, necessitating the name change to Lincoln College of New England.

When I left in 2009, the ambiance had changed noticeably. LCNE was a for-profit college and the business end of it seemed to predominate.

In the la-di-da landscape of Betsy DeVos and the Darwinian battleground of Donald Trump, school closings are merely part of the struggle. As for the students left hanging, oh well. (LCNE students will be able to transfer credits, so there’s that.)

Neither DeVos nor Trump is to blame for the downfall of Briarwood/LCNE, but if people like them have their way, more for-profits will dominate, leaving more disappointment in their wakes. It doesn’t take a degree from Trump University to figure that out.

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