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openings in industry and the professions are waiting to offer you more money to start, faster advancement, more interesting and challenging work."
ITT salesmen pick up where the ad leaves off. "We have the equipment here to teach you everything you need to be valuable to a dentist," salesman Robert Sousa told a prospective student recently as he showed off the school's new $20,000 laboratory. "You'll be able to clean teeth, take mouth impressions, take X-rays and all that once you finish our course."
The duties Sousa outlined are all beyond the scope of a dental assistant, and doing the work he described would put the dental assistant in violation of state law.
The prospective student-a Spotlight Team member-was then given a qualifying examination which she was told would determine if she could take the
A former dental instructor had previously told The Globe that the school "loved to sign up the unqualified girl. They were easy marks for the salesmen who were just interested in getting their commissions."
Purposefully, the reporter answered more than half the questions wrong, giving her a mark well below the national average. But it was still good enough to be accepted by ITT. "You're pretty smart," Sousa told the reporter. "You're going to make a lot of money from this course."
The money, however, is made by Sousa. Although he falsely told the reporter that he was a salaried employee of the school, Sousa is paid strictly on commission, $100 for every student he enrolls.
(The Globe found that ITT Tech goes to great lengths to satisfy its salesmen, even at times at the risk of violating two state laws-one giving students three days to cancel home enrollments and the other calling for refunding within 10 days all deposits to a student who has properly canceled.
(Although its practices have been the subject of complaints to the Better Business Bureau and the attorney general's office, the school has never been challenged for its actions which have kept substantial amounts in commissions in its salesmen's pockets.)
Once the $100 commission is secure, students say they are forgotten by the salesmen. Also forgotten for the most part are the exaggerated promises of expert training and high-paying jobs on graduation.
"I have an ITT diploma, but it is worthless," a medical assistance graduate says as she dusts off the display case of the watch repair shop where she now works as a clerk. "The only job I could get was here."
A customer enters the store and the medical assistance graduates walks over to wait on him. She is still wearing the white nurse's shoes she had purchased for the career ITT training was to provide her.
STUDENTS SUFFER BY INACTION OF REGULATORS
The failure of the Massachusetts Education Department and the attorney general to crack down on questionable schools can affect the financial and even the physical well-being of students.
The Spotlight Team found one Boston school that has served food and housed students for four years without either the requisite health or lodging-house permits. Nor did the school have the required state license to operate.
Two other schools folded up in January-in the midst of the Spotlight Team's investigation of them-and locked their 45 students out, owing them at least $15,400.
To determine the consequences of the state's lackadaisical regulatory efforts, The Globe investigated five schools that have either failed to obtain the required state licenses or have been the subject of complaints to consumer agencies.
Operating an unlicensed school may be punished by six months in jail, a $1000 fine or both.
FUTURE CAREERS INC.
Nineteen-year-old Susan DiNicola wanted to mail the deposit for her $500 medical secretary course, but the official at Pittsfield Medical Annex said she had to pay immediately if she wanted to enroll.
"I ran down to the bank and took out all my savings and paid him," she said. Six days later, as an elevator carried her to what she hoped was her first class, the operator turned to Miss DiNicola and remarked. "Say goodbye to your money." It was sound advice.
When she reached the classroom, workmen were removing desks, chairs and other furniture. The school had closed without opening. Twelve students had lost $3400.
The would-be Pittsfield school was owned by Future Careers Inc., which also had schools in Boston and Worcester that closed about the same time. At the Worcester school 30 students who had paid some $12,000 were left stranded in mid course.
The Boston school reportedly closed at the end of its courses.
The attorney general's office has filed suit against Future Careers to recover the students' money and to prevent the company from engaging in further alleged "deceptive and unfair acts and practices."
But Future Careers, which offered courses in paramedical training at costs between $300 and $500, was well known to both the attorney general and the Education Department before any of its schools went out of business.
The Boston school had been involved in so many dubious dealings with students that Atty. Gen. Robert Quinn and the school entered into a formal agreement recorded publicly a year ago-the only one ever to involve a school-in which the company promised to cease certain allegedly deceptive practices.
The sudden closings of the Worcester and Pittsfield schools were precisely the events that a state law, passed in 1971, sought to avoid. To protect students, it requires certain schools to post a $25,000 bond before being licensed to sell courses in Massachusetts.
Yet Future Careers was able to escape the law and avoid licensing when a ruling by the Education Department allowed the company to change the name— but not the advertised content-of its courses.
"Want to model? Fashion Signatures needs girls. If not (a) professional, short training may qualify you."
This advertisement by Fashion Signatures Modeling Agency appeared recently in the "help wanted" section of newspapers. It was used to enroll students in a 48-class-hour, $345 modeling course at a school of the same name.
Under the state Consumer Protection Act, use of "help wanted" columns to solicit students by making them think a job is being offered is "an unfair and deceptive trade practice." In addition, the state rules governing private business schools prohibit them from advertising in employment sections.
(Until The Globe stopped accepting all such ads, McCall's Modeling Agency also placed ads for an associated school in the employment columns. John Porcello, director of the school, admitted recently he had only two modeling jobs to offer.)
All four Fashion Signatures schools are unlicensed-and consequently have not posted the required bond-because the state auditor has not certified their financial stability.
In the Spotlight Team's investigation, a reporter enrolled with Fashion Signatures school and mailed in a $50 deposit. Although the reporter canceled the following day, the school has refused to return the money.
The school's refusal contrasts with a statement its president, Harry W. Guida, made on Feb. 16, 1973, on a school license application he signed "under penalties of perjury." Guida said deposits were "not refundable unless notified within 48 hours."
JULIET GIBSON SCHOOL
''Integrity' is a beautiful word!" says the sign taped to a door at Juliet Gibson Professional School for Women.
But judged by its professed standard, the Boston school is far from exemplary. Juliet Gibson, which offers a $1,900 fashion course, recently lacked not only the required state license, but also a city lodging house permit and a state health permit.
In addition, Linda Ross, the school's youthful director, admitted she had used her position as membership chairman of the Massachusetts Personnel and Guid
ance Assn. to enroll students. All 10 of her current students, she said, were signed up after visits to high schools across Massachusetts.
Although the school has operated without a license for 11⁄2 years, Quinn's office filed suit against Juliet Gibson only after the Spotlight Team inquired at his office about the school.
The suit seeks to enjoin the school from enrolling students until it is licensed. Quinn has been acquainted with the school for two years. In December 1971 Miss Ross and "the Gibson girls" proclaimed “Bob Quinn Candy Day" to honor "the quality of character and sincerity of heart" of the donor of a box of candy-Quinn.
How did "Bob Quinn Candy Day” come about? As Miss Ross explains it, "There had been a complaint registered against the school in the attorney general's office, and, in order to investigate, he met the Gibson girls at a wedding reception that they sang at."
Later, Quinn brought a box of candy to the school and stayed for 10–15 minutes, Miss Ross said, but his acquaintance with the school apparently had one benefit to Juliet Gibson: Miss Ross heard nothing further about the complaint.
FRAMINGHAM CIVIL SERVICE SCHOOL
Salesman Alex Cataldo of Framingham Civil Service School was indignant at a caller's question about whether any complaints about the school had been filed with the state attorney general.
"Nope. Never," he declared. "The attorney general is a classmate of mine, so there better not be any complaints."
Actually, Atty. Gen. Robert Quinn's office has on file at least five complaints about deceptive selling by salesmen from the correspondence school-two about Cataldo himself.
Yet no action has been taken against the school, and its salesmen continue making false statements like the one by Bert Meltzer, who told a reporter posing as an applicant that no one could pass the state Motor Vehicle Registry Examiner's test without taking Framingham's $400 course.
In fact, the Framingham course is not even necessary to study for the test. A Boston bookstore offers a study guide for the test costing $4.
NEW ENGLAND SCHOOL OF INVESTIGATION
New England School of Investigation is one of the few state correspondence schools ever threatened with formal sanction by the Education Department, but the department's ire centered on a minor change in the school's contract.
The school is owned by Allied Adjustment Service, Inc., an insurance claims company that appears to use the course as a profitable in-house employment agency, hiring a large portion of the few students New England graduates.
However, the Allied corporation was dissolved in 1970, according to state records.
Walter J. Gillespie, vice president of Allied and an advisory faculty member of the school, refused to explain in a telephone interview why the company was operating under the name of a dissolved corporation, but he said Allied "might be incorporated under another name."
New England, which offers $600 courses in insurance adjusting and private investigation, is administered by Thomas Fortier, a boyish-looking salesman who has sold courses for at least three correspondence schools, including LaSalle Extension University.
Fortier claims to have done four years of college work at LaSalle, but the school says he actually finished one correspondence course in business administration. Fortier made his assertion on a license application he signed under "penalties of perjury."
SIGN NOW, SAID SALESMAN; $1,850 AND A YEAR LATER...
The ITT salesman jumped up from the living room couch and shouted at the youth: "If you don't sign up now, you won't get into the course. Those seats are selling like hotcakes. In fact, I'd better make sure you can get in."
The salesman, Donald Barbaro, reportedly rushed to a telephone in the next room and called. He returned breathlessly: "There's still a few seats, thank God, but you've got to sign now."
Hesitant up to that point, 17-year-old Robert Marquis made a decision that he has regretted ever since. He signed his name to an ITT contract to take its $1850 course in heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration.
There was no real urgency for Marquis to sign. The class did not begin for another nine months and there were seats available to the end. He was rushed into enrolling because salesman Barbaro wanted his $100 commission.
Within a year's time, all Marquis's reservations about the school and the instruction turned into reality. The course proved to be ill conceived, poorly taught and badly equipped.
When Marquis and his classmates complained to the attorney general, the state Education Department and to school officials, their pleas for the most part fell on deaf ears.
Marquis's year at ITT ended last August with graduation ceremonies at which 235 students and their families were given a stirring speech about the school's excellence by a Federal education official who now admits his praise was based on his friendship with the school's director.
In his address, Dr. Albert Riendeau of the US Office of Education said: "You made a wise choice when you enrolled here . . . I have discovered you have an outstanding program at all levels at ITT Tech . . . You have been taught by a thoroughly dedicated staff that has the interests of the students at heart." He ended by extolling the school's "outstanding placement program." Listening to Dr. Riendau, the youthful Marquis, recalls thinking: "That guy just doesn't know what he's talking about." Dr. Riendeau now admits as much. He recently told a Globe reporter that his acclaim of the school was "probably questionable" since he had never been inside ITT Tech before the afternoon of the graduation and he had based this speech on a tour and a short talk he had with his "personal friend," school director Charles Feistkorn.
Following the graduation speech, the ITT students filed past Dr. Reindeau to receive their diplomas. One student recalls thinking "It may not be much, but at least it shows I graduated." He was wrong. When he opened up his envelope, instead of the diploma, he found a notice from the school informing him that he still owed them money.
"My mother was sitting there with my grandmother and my sister and her husband. They all wanted to see my diploma. What do you say to them when all you've got to show for your year is a stinking bill," the student said.
Although Marquis received his diploma, he is just as bitter about his year at ITT. He says he was attracted to the course by salesman Barbaro's claim that it would include instruction in both auto and truck air conditioning. But in fact, the course did not cover these two areas.
Marquis also says the salesman told him the school maintained a free student parking lot. This also was false, as there is a $12.50 monthly parking fee.
Salesman Barbaro says his recollection of the interview is "fuzzy," but he does not remember making the claims were still available. Marquis's parents were present and they substantiate their son's version.
Also, a second student signed up for the course by Barbaro told the Globe he was rushed into signing "because the salesman told me I couldn't get a seat if I waited."
When Marquis signed his contract in February 1972, the course had no official status. It was not until Aug. 2, 1972, a full six months later, that the state Education Department licensed it. Joseph DeRosa, state trade school supervisor, told the Globe that state law prohibits a school such as ITT from soliciting students into a course until it is fully approved by the state.
In approving the course DeRosa notified Feistkorn that state regulation sets the maximum number of students who can be taught by one instructor in a laboratory at 15. A month later, when the course began, Marquis says he was crowded into his laboratory with 26 other students, a dozen above the stateallowed limit. The size of his lab stayed above the legal limit for more than half the year, he said.
From the beginning, the heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration students encountered trouble. Their instructor continually skipped classes and finally quit in November. The new teacher disliked his predecessor's methods and started all over at the beginning-meaning a month's instruction had to be made up.
The episode, like his year at ITT, still rankles Marquis. "I was one of the top students in my class, but I'll be frank; I hardly learned a damned thing. I had to drive 80 miles a day to go there but I wouldn't go back if it was next door."
[From the Boston Evening Globe, Mar. 27, 1974]
HOME-STUDY SCHOOLS: CON GAME OB WAVE OF THE FUTURE
Correspondence education has been hailed by one congressman as the "wave of the future" and condemned by another as "the last legalized con game in America."
Its proponents present home study as the last hope for those who cannot afford college in an education-conscious society. It's said to be the only place in America where opportunity knocks twice.
Opponents castigate the industry as a predatory, insatiable monster that feeds off people's dreams and gobbles up millions of tax dollars through systematic exploitation of government education programs.
A four-mouth Globe Spotlight Team investigation, based on extensive interviews with students, salesmen, school executives and government regulators and a survey of Federal research, found overwhelming evidence indicating the burgeoning industry is failing students in droves, with few finishing highpriced courses of negligible value.
Saturation advertising is the cornerstone of an industry that sells education like any other marketable commodity. And its surging growth is taking place in a comfortable void, virtually unchecked by consumer and education agencies across the country.
It's now big business and the trade is beginning to be dominated by huge corporations like ITT, Bell & Howell, McGraw-Hill, MacMillan Co. and Montgomery Ward.
What reliable data is available concerning a tenaciously insular industry shows correspondence education dramatically fails the acid test-do students finish their studies and get jobs in the field?
The answer, based on research by the General Accounting Office and the Veterans' Administration, is a resounding no.
Both found that about three out of four students using GI education benefits never finish the course and many wind up with only bills to show for it all. The GAO revealed that only six percent of sampled veterans achieved the critical objective of employment in the field of training.
Four well-known correspondence schools are examined in today's installment.
WANT A SCENIC JOB RAKING ROCKS?
Against the panoramic backdrop of a pristine forest, a solitary ranger rides slowly toward sundown. The narrator beckons man back to nature: . . Live and work by a peaceful lake, a sparkling river, in the mountains or by the seashore. As a conservation officer, wild-life manager or forestry aide, you work outdoors, preserving our natural environment and protecting it against the dangers of violators. Call for this free career kit . . .”—television ad for the North American School of Conservation, Channel 56.
For $595, North American School of Conservation offers you a solid career away from smog, city crime, sirens at night, hurried people, snarled traffic. But the raw truth is it really can't deliver.
Government officials who hire in the conservation field have a decidedly negative view of the course as a job credential.
A Globe survey of state and Federal agencies found a firm consensus that the school's instruction is of negligible value in getting even a bottom-level forestry position-such as groundskeeper-and then only if all other things are equal. The course is virtually worthless for obtaining a "professional" level job in the US Forest and Park Service Departments, where the starting pay ranges from $8,000 to $10,000 and requires a college degree.
The only job available for a North American graduate who had no other credentials would be at "the $100-a-week level raking rocks," according to one official. In most instances, the job would have been available without taking the course in the first place.