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Executive produced by news legend Dan Rather, Fail State investigates the dark side of American higher education, chronicling decades of policy decisions in Washington DC that have given rise to a powerful and highly-predatory for-profit college industry. With echoes of the subprime mortgage crisis, the film lays bare how for-profit colleges exploited millions of low-income and minority students, leaving them with worthless degrees and drowning in student loan debt. Director Alexander Shebanow traces the rise, fall, and resurgence of the for-profit college industry, uncovering their Wall Street backing and incestuous relationship with the regulators and lawmakers charged with overseeing them.Written by
I remember when I was a kid in the 90's, watching daytime TV during the summer and noticing that every commercial seemed to be for ITT Tech. Even as a kid, I thought it seemed super scammy to target so heavily people at home watching daytime TV.
Beyond that, though, this was a subject I didn't know a lot about, and the documentary does an excellent job in making it easy to follow the process that led to the rise of for-profit colleges and exactly why that they do is so predatory. There were several "wow" moments where you just rock back, amazed at how boldly these companies rip off people who are already at a disadvantage and how hardly anyone, especially among elected lawmakers (on both side of the aisle) who receive gigantic campaign contributions from these companies, seems willing to stop them. It isn't all hopeless, though. The documentary also highlights how good community colleges are in actually doing the things for-profits claim to do, and opened my eyes to how much supporting them is one of the most effective, helpful things we can do to support higher education in this county.
This is a really great, insightful documentary that exposes truths about a terrible industry. I highly recommend it and am grateful to the filmmakers for doing this work and the people featured in the documentary for sharing their knowledge and experiences.
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