So it has come to this: Private equity will buy Apollo Education, the parent of the University of Phoenix. It is "a move," the Wall Street Journal reports, "that would take the beleaguered company out of the eye of public investors."
But perhaps not out of peril from criticism by the White House and investigations by federal and California regulators. Maybe. The "for-profit education" sector is a contributor in politics (see here and here); even better, it fits the ideological bias of the ruling Republican Party (and neoliberal Dems) that the "free market" is the solution to everything.
The former, especially in Arizona, has spent years defunding public institutions of higher education. In other words, real universities, where one received a "universal" education under greater or lesser but real rigorous standards. Where students often had their first real experience with people from different countries, ethnicities and, if they were fortunate, different life paths. Places with real campuses, libraries, and traditions.
Nor will the controversial "business model" of the University of Phoenix likely change much. For all the "free market" triumphalism, the company depended on the U.S. taxpayers for 81 percent of its revenue. Most of this was in the form of federal student loans. The graduation rate is poor. Either way, students are disproportionately on the hook for debt. Since 2010, when the "university" had 477,000 students, it has been bleeding enrollment (See Business Insider's useful primer here).
Of all the hustles and rackets in Arizona that needed a lengthy proctological exam by the press, this is one of the top opportunities not primarily involving water or land use (even more so than public pensions or expense account padding!). Yet it has never, to my knowledge, received it.