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Bested by the Higher Education Business

February 24, 2018

How to hire good, qualified, people is a skill that, in education especially, makes all the difference. In a discussion with Glenn Jones, founder of Jones International University, shortly before he died, Jones admitted that he didn’t hire good people to staff his Internet university.

Jones, a billionaire cable industry magnate, was at heart an educator and invested close to two hundred million dollars of his own money in an attempt to crack the higher education marketplace with his own Internet university. I attempted the same with my own solely-Internet university and had to admit to Glenn that I had the same problem.

Funny thing is that just last week I had a discussion with another President of an education company and he admitted the same failure.

Well, here’s why we fail.

Whether we’re businessmen or in the case of my friend, an education entrepreneur, we assume too much. Hiring is just step one; educating those we hire is step two, and that takes time.

In my case, I wanted a special kind of university, one that attracted traditional scholars who had resisted the politicization of their disciplines and identified themselves with the great academicians who are leaders in their fields. In higher education that made them “conservatives.”

I found the scholars because they had gravitated to a conservative institute as “Faculty Associates” and I was able to use that list and recruit them–by mail. But, the university business is extremely complex, and highly regulated, and I needed people like my instructors to work for me on the administrative side of the “business.”

In doing that, I came to the conclusion that in order to find people to staff the office, I needed to operate from an office near a conservative college. In Colorado where we were domiciled from 2004 to 2012, there was only Colorado Christian University. But, though well-intentioned, CCU was not Hillsdale, nor one of the other institutions we call “conservative.”  CCU’s new President, former U.S. Senator Bill Armstrong, was a political conservative, but not an academic  He died from the complications of cancer before he could shape CCU into a conservative mold.

In the case of my venture, Yorktown University, I needed conservatives from my secretary who answers the phones on up to the marketing person, course designer, and others on staff who were as well-versed in my mission as I myself and my instructors.

If you can find such people, you must train them.

I know, there are lots of other tasks that have to be done, but you must spend days and months working with those you hire in order to master everything they need to know, including all the ins and outs of the regulatory environment, e-mail and direct mail marketing practices, graphic design, Facebook and Google “Ad word” advertising, donor solicitation, and even how to use office software programs.

If you also have to teach them what your mission is, you’re going to fail.

Glenn Jones was successful in the cable business, but he was “bested’ by the difficulties of higher education–and I was too. If you’d like to learn more, read my new book that is a history of Yorktown University.

Shame on Skadden Arps!

February 21, 2018

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and even a bit before in some Soviet satellite nations, opened a great deal of economic activity as new governments began to privatize state companies.

Unfortunately, many of these transactions were controlled by company managers or Communist nomenclatura who wanted payoffs for directing the sale to those who paid bribes. One million dollar bribes were common, and U.S. companies and entrepreneurs were faced with participating in the “instant millionaire” game or violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

In some instances, even if bribes were paid, the deals broke down and the persons engaged in making payoffs could take the perpetrators to Court, or keep their mouths shut. A deal is a deal, right?

Yesterday, special counsel Robert Miller indicted an attorney with the U.S .law firm of Skadden Arps for lying about relations with former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort.

Manafort worked against anti-communist reformers in Ukraine and with the political party headed by the pro-Soviet President Viktor F. Yanukovych.

Wait, did I get that right? Paul Manafort, a Reagan conservative, was working with pro-Soviet forces in Eastern Europe and against the anti-communists? And what is Skadden Arps doing working on behalf of the pro-Soviet president of the Ukraine?

Back when political conservatives were anti-communists, we wouldn’t be caught dead working with communist governments. In my case, I even avoided visiting the Soviet Union lest that travel were suspect when later I would work for Ronald Reagan. And, when from 1989 to 1995 I worked with the head of RFE in Poland to finance projects developed by associates of Lech Walesa, I simply would not pay officials who wanted to become “instant millionaires.”  Several bids we prepared were thwarted by those who made pay-offs.

Apparently the prestigious attorneys at Skadden Arps had a different view:  Just provide legal representation for the bribers, money launderers and pro-Soviet hacks.

Sorry, perhaps I’m naive, but I have to say that is not good. In fact, it’s outrageous!


Why the Parkland Tragedy Happened

February 17, 2018

The average salaries in Florida of public school teachers are improved, $46,598, but not the administration of those schools. My graduating class in 1960 in North Miami Florida was 1,025 graduates!

Florida’s population grew from 5 million in 1960 to 20 million in 2015.

That has led to attempts to limit class size:

“As of the 2010-2011 school year, the maximum number of students in each core class are:

  • 18 students in prekindergarten through grade 3
  • 22 students in grades 4 through 8
  • 25 students in grades 9 through 12″

What has not changed is the industry-style organization of Florida public schools.

Parkland, Florida’s high  school serviced 3,000 students. One of those students with a troubled history was expelled, reportedly exhibited violent behavior and “treated’ with mood altering drugs.

In a school of 500 students, he might have been identified much earlier as a potential threat to society–not in a school with 3,000 students.

I know how schools like that cope. I graduated from North Miami high school in North Miami, Florida. North Miami was a Mecca for employment in Florida’s tourism industry and attracted tens of thousands of persons from northern states and rural areas of Florida. Teachers did their best, even using new technologies (television) to teach basic courses, but were overwhelmed by sheer numbers of students.

In any large population of high school students, some gifted students will find their calling. Jeff Zucker, president of NBC, is a North Miami graduate. The founder of Planet Hollywood, Keith Barish, was my classmate, as was Stanley Ringler, later a Rabbi and executive with B’nai Brith. Public speaking and debate programs brought us together and ameliorated the “mass education” we were compelled to endure.

I’m appalled, but not surprised, that even today, schools the size of Parkland high school still “house” so many students. Maybe Jeff Zucker, Keith Barish and Rabbi Ringler will think of something!


Why Jeff Bezos Loves Pittsburgh

February 12, 2018

I love Pittsburgh too, but for different reasons.

I grew up in Pittsburgh, went to Pitt, but returned only once–in 1996–to assist the first Republican to gain control of Allegheny County Government in sixty years. The city of Pittsburgh has been controlled by Democrats–who drove the City to bankruptcy–for eighty-five years and even when I was at Pitt the university was Left-wing.

Now Pittsburgh, home of the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins and host to Carnegie-Mellon and Pitt, may be selected for Amazon’s second HQ.

Well, I have some thoughts about that published on Monday, February 5, by the Tribune/Review.

Everyone Likes a Parade–Maybe

February 9, 2018

The French national anthem, La Marseillaise, celebrates a violent French revolution in 1789 with a call to arms by citizens. Much of the killing in the streets of Paris was organized by Jacobin terrorists. Though the music of La Marseillaise is stirring, and the July 14 Bastille Day military parade in Paris is exciting to watch, the destruction brought to France during the Terror divided France and carried revolutionary ideology to the world.

President Trump’s decision to hold an equivalent military parade on July 4 in Washington, DC has implications far beyond the event, if held.  Let’s hope it is not.

The President’s love of military, gained when he attended New York Military Academy, has led him to militarize his Administration.

Civilian control of the military in the United States is a long tradition going back to the American revolution when a civilian army was fashioned to fight the British. After Independence, resistance to a standing army was intense and only gradually did the United States develop a professional army and navy commensurate to its power.

It became common practice that Cabinet agencies of the federal government were managed by civilians and the National Security Act of 1947 made it a requirement that only civilians could lead the Defense Department.  Service agencies were also required to be led by civilians.

Gradually, however, the appointment of former Generals and Admirals became common practice.  Here is a list.

Ronald Reagan:      Gen. Al Haig, Secretary  of State

Gen. Colin Powell, National Security Council

Bush 41                    Gen. Brent Scowcroft, National Security Advisor

Bush 43:                   Gen. Colin Powell, Secretary of State

Barack Obama:        Gen. Eric Shinseki, Veterans Affairs

The damn burst with the election of President Donald Trump who exhibits a fondness for former General and Flag Officers.

Donald Trump:         Gen. James N. Mattis, Secretary of Defense

Gen. Michael T. Flynn, first National Security Advisor

Gen. H.R. McMastersecond National Security Advise

Gen. John F. Kelly, Homeland Security and Chief of Staff

With former Generals at Defense, Homeland Security, the National Security Council and now, Brigadier General Mitchell Zais a Deputy Secretary at the Department of Education, not to mention appointment of a retired Navy Seal at the Interior Department, President Trump has abandoned the principle of civilian control.

These appointments conflict with the war weariness of American voters with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Candidate Trump made it clear that he would cease from nation building and wars to make the world democratic. He didn’t tell the voters that he values military expertise and experience over the expertise of civilian professions.

In light of the likelihood that a resolution to Impeach President Trump will pass the U.S. House of Representatives in 2019, we should not take lightly the marshalling of troops to the vicinity of Washington, DC for a grand parade. Trump is not a quitter and faced with Impeachment and the criminal indictment of members of his family, those troops could come in handy.

Virginia is Turning “Blue”

February 6, 2018

The Commonwealth of Virginia was once a stalwart conservative state , flawed, but conservative. Capitol of the British Colonies in the Colonial Era, Capitol of the Confederate States during the Civil War and leading the fight for segregation in the 1950s. Virginia was very “Old South” and welcomed the “Southern Strategy” of Richard Nixon in the 1960s.

But Virginia voters now vote “Blue” for State officers and in Presidential elections. State executive offices are solid Democrat.  The new Governor is a “high tax” Leftist, Ralph Northam, who succeeded Clinton friend and former DNC Chairman, Terry McAuliffe. The State’s U.S. Senators are Democrats, John Warner and Tim Kaine.

The General Assembly and Senate are controlled by Republicans, but Republican control of the State Senate hangs on one vote that was won by casting dice. The General Assembly has 51 Republicans to 49 Democrats.

The U.S. House of Representatives also reveals a split between Dems and the GOP. Northern Virginia is becoming dominant.

Other parts of the state are “conservative.”

In the far West (Virginia’s longitude the same as Detroit) is Roanoke and Abington. Richmond’s Dave Brat is a former college economics teacher who upset Republican House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, in 2014. Bob Goodlate, also from the Richmond area, has announced his retirement.  Scott Taylor is a former Navy Seal and represents Norfolk which is impacted by the Norfolk Naval Station, Little Creek (home of the Navy Seals) and other military installations. Hampton Roads, has a heavy concentration of African Americans, and is the only region with a concentration of Catholic citizens. French nobles fleeing the Terror in the French Revolution escaped to Norfolk. The Catholic Bishops of Richmond tend to be very Left of center advocates of “Social Justice.”

Here’s a ranking of Virginia’s Congressional members published today by the Family Research Council that shows how Virginia’s Congressional Delegation is split ideologically.

Rep. Don Beyer (D)—————–0%       Alexandria, VA

Rep. Dave Brat (R) —————100%         Richmond, VA

Rep. Barbara Comstock (R)——78%        Sterling, VA

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D)——— 11%        Annandale, VA

Rep. Thomas Garrett (R)——-100%        Charlottesville, VA

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R)———100%         Roanoke, VA

Rep. Morgan Griffith (R)——- 100%        Abington, CA

Rep. Donald McEachin (D)——- 0%         Suffolk, VA

Rep. Bobby Scott (D)—————-0%        Newport News, VA

Rep. Scott Taylor (R)————-100%         Norfolk, VA

Rep. Rob Wittman (R)———–100%         Richmond, VA

Two Members (Beyer and Connolly) represent Districts in important cities adjacent to DC. Two  other hail from “Hampton Roads” in southern Virginia. Though seven Members are “good” Republicans, the power of Northern Virginia’s concentration of U.S. government employees is taking its toll. Barbara Comstock hails from Sterling in Northern Virginia and is likely to lose her seat in 2018.

Fate of the Union and Trump’s Fate

January 31, 2018

President Donald Trump did an excellent job reading his first “State of the Union Address.”

Early commentary by cable news program “journalists” indicate some surprise that the President has come up with a workable compromise on DACA. But some have asked why Russia was not discussed. And, I wonder why he didn’t mention the crisis of American higher education tuition cost, student debt, and domination of the Social Sciences and Humanities by the Left.

Does his lamentable experience with “Trump University” and weak appointments at the U.S. Department of Education portend a “do nothing” Administration with respect to higher education?

Why would President Trump appoint a retired career Army General, Mitchell Zais, as principal Deputy at the U.S. Department of Education when there are so many knowledgeable conservative scholars and academics who understand why higher education is in crisis?

This thoughtful essay by Dr. Angelo Codevilla on what is at stake in the debate over immigration puts the discussion about immigration in its important context. The United Kingdom and the governments of Poland and Hungary are taking a stand against open immigration. So must we.

And American foreign policy in the Trump Administration has been silent about Russia. Silence is sometimes better than shouting, but President Trump’s silence has generated speculation that the Russian Kleptocracy has deep claws into his family company and finances.

I hope not.

Impeachment is not something that the American people want. But, if President Trump has been compromised by Russian interests, then be gone!