For those not familiar with the GI Bill – the program which provides numerous benefits for our veterans when they complete their terms of service – it can be a pretty good deal. It’s undergone several changes over the years (having first evolved in the 40s and 50s) but it’s helped a lot of veterans, including me. One of the most commonly used features aside from home mortgage programs is the education benefit. Veterans can go to school and have significant portions of their tuition covered, allowing for an easier transition to civilian life.
Some of the schools which a small number of veterans are choosing, however, are rather outside the mainstream. (To say the least.) Reveal News has published the results of an investigation into non-accredited schools which receive GI Bill reimbursement funds from taxpayers and at least some of them are rather… questionable.
Iraq War veteran David Rodriguez steps into a softly lit classroom at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco, crosses his legs and sits on a pillow in front of an altar decorated with a rope, a model of a penis and a statue of a Hindu god.
Rodriguez, a retired Navy lieutenant commander who led an engineering battalion that dismantled roadside bombs, is here for a class on “sexual bodywork.” When instruction begins, he will join his classmates in practicing different forms of masturbation.
I’m going to stop the excerpt there because it goes downhill pretty quickly into material we generally don’t publish here. But this school is one example of a non-accredited institution of higher learning which is receiving at least some reimbursements from Uncle Sam and is providing an education which may be of rather dubious usefulness. Further, the guy running the place has some odd views on the accreditation process itself.
Rev. Ted McIlvenna, the school’s president, walks down a narrow hallway cluttered with erotic paintings and sculptures, pornographic magazines and reel after reel of pornographic films.
“This is where we keep the kiddie porn,” he said, pointing at a 10-foot-long locked cabinet. “You have to have a doctorate to open it.”
McIlvenna offered a parting gift: two etchings of naked women, a promotional poster for the 1978 X-rated film “Hot & Saucy Pizza Girls” and a DVD of “Pretty Peaches 2,” a 1987 pornographic film that the institute digitally restored. It includes a rape.
McIlvenna, who has been in business since 1976, says he will never seek accreditation from an organization approved by the Department of Education.
“Accreditation is a bunch of crap,” he said. “They would never let me keep my library.”
There are all sorts of schools on the list, some of which seem far more legitimate and useful than others, but the reader can be the judge for each. Still, some of these outfits and the people who run them should raise some questions as to how much tax money should be heading their way. They include:
– A construction academy whose president has declared bankruptcy twice and been arrested for assault.
– A nursing school whose president has faced five liens for unpaid taxes.
– A commercial trucking program whose president has lodged eight guilty pleas in traffic court, including driving an unregistered vehicle, driving a vehicle without proper inspection and speeding in a school zone.
– A beauty school whose founder has two bankruptcies in four years and served time in prison for vehicular invasion and aggravated robbery.
So how important is accreditation and should it be a requirement for the GI Bill program? I don’t think we want to shut out all private and technical schools which fall outside the government system, but there have to be some standards, right? For what it’s worth, eight members of the Senate have gotten wind of the story and launched an investigation into what’s going on here.