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California Regulator Seeks To Shut Down 'Learn To Code' Bootcamps 374

Posted by Soulskill
from the here-for-the-danegeld dept.
cultiv8 writes: "The Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE), a unit in the California Department of Consumer Affairs charged with licensing and regulating postsecondary education in California, is arguing that 'learn to code' bootcamps fall under its jurisdiction and are subject to regulation. In mid-January, BPPE sent cease and desist letters to Hackbright Academy, Hack Reactor, App Academy, Zipfian Academy, and others. Unless they comply, these organizations face imminent closure and a hefty $50,000 fine. A BPPE spokesperson said these organizations have two weeks to start coming into compliance."
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California Regulator Seeks To Shut Down 'Learn To Code' Bootcamps

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  • by keltor (99721) * on Friday January 31, 2014 @11:32AM (#46120023) Homepage
    Not sure if you realize, but these camps are typical of private education that doesn't give you "credits" in that they cost an arm and a leg. They cost as much as my Master's Degree cost me.
  • by ph1ll (587130) <ph1ll1phenry@nOSpAm.yahoo.com> on Friday January 31, 2014 @11:32AM (#46120029)

    "Is there a specific price point at which regulation should be automatic?"

    Any financial transaction. This is fairly standard.

  • Re:California (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @11:36AM (#46120089)

    If you're charging someone $15000 for a 10 week course, and promising jobs at companies "like Facebook and Google," you probably need to fall under some sort of regulation and compliance.

    If you're charging $15k a head, and you're whining about the undue burden of a "hefty" $50k fine, then you have what, 10 clients?

  • Re:California (Score:4, Informative)

    by alen (225700) on Friday January 31, 2014 @11:43AM (#46120185)

    what is the small print

    unless its really 99% of their grads are hired for real software jobs which i don't believe they need to be truthful. every school that hypes a placement rate always has some small print that shows the 90% number is a small percentage of sampled students

  • Re:California (Score:5, Informative)

    by pesho (843750) on Friday January 31, 2014 @11:47AM (#46120229)
    The regulation is hardly aggressive. According to the regulators for now all the companies need to show is a good faith effort to come in compliance. The article headline is obviously misleading.
  • Re: California (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @11:50AM (#46120281)

    Regulation can prevent harm. Litigation is expensive, time consuming, and a crap shoot with loaded dice since the perpetrator has much deeper pockets. Also see tort reform which gutted your only recourse. Deregulation and tort reform are done for the wealthy to give them impunity.

  • Re:Why? (Score:4, Informative)

    by AuMatar (183847) on Friday January 31, 2014 @11:53AM (#46120313)

    10th amendment. "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

    Since the US Constitution doesn't prohibit the regulation of education, it is permitted to the states.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @12:11PM (#46120501)

    The Constitution doesn't give rights to anyone. The Declaration affirms the pre-existing rights of all people. The Constitution delineates the restricted powers the people have ceded to the government that restrict the people's rights.

  • Re:California (Score:5, Informative)

    by porges (58715) on Friday January 31, 2014 @12:16PM (#46120543) Homepage

    I'd raise your "misleading" to "bullshit", actually. The article makes it perfectly clear, the summary and headline are garbage.

  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @12:20PM (#46120601)

    I'd say Article 9 of the California Constitution. With a side of Article 4 and 5.

    ARTICLE 9 EDUCATION

    SECTION 1. A general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence being
    essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the
    people, the Legislature shall encourage by all suitable means the
    promotion of intellectual, scientific, moral, and agricultural
    improvement.

    So if the Legislature wishes to encourage the promotion of such activity by preventing fraud and dishonesty in such endeavors, it's certainly a reasonable interpretation.

    One might even take it as an obligation on their part to use all suitable means to do so.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @12:27PM (#46120677)

    Libertarians will NEVER say it's OK for businesses to take advantage of people. In What it Means to be a Libertarian, Charles Murray clearly states, "...the libertarian ethic is simple but stark ... thou shalt not deceive or defraud." Fraud and deceit are not accepted by Libertarians.

    Libertarianism promotes freedom from the majority of government regulation but NOT anarchy. In a Libertarian state there would be strong and effective civil courts to protect the consumers against institutions that aren't "100% honest to students about their chances of passing or even getting a job once they were done."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @12:38PM (#46120761)

    If you Google 'Fined for Lemonade stand' (didn't try your interesting spelling), none of the top results are from California, and this http://mentalfloss.com/article/30457/6-illicit-lemonade-stands-towns-had-shut-down lists a whole bunch of cases, neither of which are from California. Which just proves that local officials make bad decisions everywhere, and if you want to criticize the California State legislature you should come up with a better example...

  • Re:California (Score:2, Informative)

    by jythie (914043) on Friday January 31, 2014 @12:42PM (#46120789)
    Well, that is the 65,000$ question, isn't it? Unless one is in one of the extreme camps, regulation is a constant balancing act that requires constant examination to determine if it is useful or unnecessary burden.

    So the devil will be in the details, with it not being all that clear what this particular case represents. It could be an overreach hurting a useful new service, or it could be simply helping said service mature while stemming ways they could go very wrong.
  • Missing the point (Score:4, Informative)

    by kelemvor4 (1980226) on Friday January 31, 2014 @01:13PM (#46121119)
    Other posters seem to think this is centered around making sure the schools are on the up and up. I think it's simply a money grab by the State of california. Here's the law, taken right from their website [ca.gov]:

    94930. Deposit of Fees, Adjustment of Fees, Reserve Balance
    (a) All fees collected pursuant to this article, including any interest on those fees, shall be deposited in the Private Postsecondary Education Administration Fund, and shall be available, upon appropriation by the Legislature, for expenditure by the bureau for the administration of this chapter.
    (b) If the bureau determines by regulation that the adjustment of the fees established by this article is consistent with the intent of this chapter, the bureau may adjust the fees. However, the bureau shall not maintain a reserve balance in the Private Postsecondary Education Administration Fund in an amount that is greater than the amount necessary to fund six months of authorized operating expenses of the bureau in any fiscal year.

    94930.5. Fee Schedule
    An institution shall remit to the bureau for deposit in the Private Postsecondary Education Administration Fund the following fees, in accordance with the following schedule:
    (a) The following fees shall be remitted by an institution submitting an application for an approval to operate, if applicable:
    (1) Application fee for an approval to operate: five thousand dollars ($5,000).
    (2) Application fee for the approval to operate a new branch of the institution: three thousand dollars ($3,000).
    (3) Application fee for an approval to operate by means of accreditation: seven hundred fifty dollars ($750).
    (b) The following fees shall be remitted by an institution seeking a renewal of its approval to operate, if applicable:
    (1) Renewal fee for the main campus of the institution: three thousand five hundred dollars ($3,500).
    (2) Renewal fee for a branch of the institution: three thousand dollars ($3,000).
    (3) Renewal fee for an institution that is approved to operate by means of accreditation: five hundred dollars ($500).
    (c) The following fees shall apply to an institution seeking authorization of a substantive change to its approval to operate, if applicable:
    (1) Processing fee for authorization of a substantive change to an approval to operate: five hundred dollars ($500).
    (2) Processing fee in connection with a substantive change to an approval to operate by means of accreditation: two hundred fifty dollars ($250).
    (d) (1) In addition to any fees paid to the bureau pursuant to subdivisions (a) to (c), inclusive, each institution that is approved to operate pursuant to this chapter shall remit both of the following:
    (A) An annual institutional fee, in an amount equal to three-quarters of 1 percent of the institution's annual revenues derived from students in California, but not exceeding a total of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) annually.
    (B) An annual branch fee of one thousand dollars ($1,000) for each branch or campus of the institution operating in California.
    (2) The amount of the annual fees pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be proportional to the bureau's cost of regulating the institution under this chapter.
    (e) If the bureau determines that the annual cost of providing oversight and review of an institution, as required by this chapter, is less than the amount of any fees required to be paid by that institution pursuant to this article, the bureau may decrease the fees applicable to that institution to an amount that is proportional to the bureau's costs associated with that institution.

    94931. Late Payment
    (a) A fee that is not paid on or before the 30th calendar day after the due date for the payment of the fee shall be subject to a 25 percent late payment penalty fee.
    (b) A fee that is not paid on or before the 90th calendar day after the due date for payment of the fee shall be subject to a 35 percent late paymen

  • Re:California (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @01:15PM (#46121145)
    Hack Reactor claims 99% placement? If true, maybe this really is an innovative education environment that aggressive regulation should stay away from.

    I went to a technical school my dad recommended after finishing my CS degree at a community college because I simply couldn't find a programming job after the .com bubble burst. They claimed a high placement rate as well, but I would say 80-90% of the students didn't get jobs programming. The school would count them as "placed" even if they found a job themselves at McDonalds. One guy who went there because he lost part of his leg in an accident and didn't want to work as a mailman anymore ended up having to go back to delivering the mail because nobody would take him with just a tech school diploma. He ended up with 10k in debt on top of that.

    The actual program was great, and could take someone from not knowing how to program to creating CRUD apps in a few months time and understanding basic ideas.

    It was sort of sad anecdotally, because out of a class of 20 there were 5-10 of us that were fine programmers but I only know of two that actually got jobs programming (I was one of them). The key thing to do if you go to one of these schools is to keep telling them after you graduate that you haven't found a job, so they will keep sending your resume out.
  • Re:California (Score:5, Informative)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday January 31, 2014 @01:38PM (#46121381)

    Strangely, many deep-red states are also struggling with poverty and high unemployment.

    Except that is not true [bls.gov]. There are five states with unemployment worse than California, and none are red (they all voted for Obama in 2012).

    If "this kind of bureaucratic overreach" was a simple explanation for high unemployment rates ...

    Nobody said it was a "simple explanation", but it is certainly part of the problem. In no other state is a business required by law to inform their customers that they may get cancer if they eat the toner powder from the laser printer in the back office.

    If a school (or any other businesses) appear to be using fraudulent advertising, then the state attorney general should investigate. But they should not be throwing up hurdles to everyone that wants to start up a business and generate jobs.

  • Re:California (Score:4, Informative)

    by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Friday January 31, 2014 @01:41PM (#46121417) Journal

    Actually, the federal government is working hard to prevent companies fleeing to these states like, for example, hassling Boeing for building a giant plant there claiming it's anti-union to poor souls inWashington state.

    I'm sure meme oh race to the bottom oh my meme savior of worldviews. Worldviews are schizophrenic, or at least neurotic: they hold logically incompatible philosophies as simultaneously true.

  • Re:California (Score:5, Informative)

    by femtobyte (710429) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:07PM (#46121655)

    Except that is not true [bls.gov]. There are five states with unemployment worse than California, and none are red (they all voted for Obama in 2012).

    And other states near the bottom of the list: Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Georgia. Also, "voted for Obama" is a poor measure for intrusive state regulations --- one of your "bottom 5" states is Nevada, the place that allows brothels and pretty much anything to go (an "anti-California" when it comes to pervasive regulations). In other words, the picture is far less clear than you claim. Your statement was "This kind of bureaucratic overreach is the reason" (emphasis mine), which is demonstrably false. Fine, if you want to walk it back to "one small part of the problem" --- but it was your own words clinging to the simplistic distortion to support your ideology.

    If a school (or any other businesses) appear to be using fraudulent advertising,

    Which is what these places appear to be doing, on a wide scale. Thus, the state is placing them under the oversight of the regulatory body with the mandate and expertise to evaluate claims and practices in education. This isn't "throwing up hurdles to everyone that wants to start up a business"; this is putting up hurdles to a very specific class of shady businesses that've raised attention through dubious practices.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:48PM (#46122075)

    I'm a student at Hack Reactor. I was pretty cynical about that 99% hiring rate number before I started here, but now I tend to believe it's accurate. I say that based on what I've seen from the graduates of the last 2 classes. As far as I can tell, everyone in the class that graduated 10 weeks ago has a job and everyone I've talked to from the group that graduated in December seems to be getting job interviews and having success moving forward in their job search.

    The trick isn't in how they do the math. If there's a trick to it, it's that:

    * Admissions are pretty competitive. They pick students who are likely to be successful.

    * They have chosen the right niche. It's all JavaScript all the time around here. There's a huge shortage of good JavaScript developers in the valley. A lot of companies see value in having someone who knows a bunch about JavaScript and is clearly highly motivated to learn even if they're weaker in data structures or some of the other areas.

    * The numbers are small right now. Hack Reactor is only 14 months old. There's only something like 120 HR graduates in the job market.

    But, and I'm in the minority around here on this, I also think coding schools should be regulated. CA passed a law to tighten regulation of trade schools in 2009 because there were lots of scams going on- a lot of bogus CNA training programs and cooking schools, etc. That law makes sense.

    And if there's a law that regulates trade schools, it seems like it should apply to coding schools just as much as sound engineering programs, barber colleges and cooking schools. Creating loopholes in a good law for one industry that thinks its special seems like a bad idea.

    Besides a little regulation will add legitimacy to a young industry and keep scam artists from moving into the space. There will be some compliance costs (paperwork is a hassle!), but I can't see it being much more than that.

  • Re: California (Score:3, Informative)

    by iamhassi (659463) on Friday January 31, 2014 @03:05PM (#46122221) Journal
    Fraud? This goes way beyond fraud. How do you prove the education you recieved is fraudulent or not? If I opened a "school" tomorrow that promised to teach programming and charged $15,000 don't you think some government organization should make sure the students are actually going to learn something for their $15,000? Really this is to protect these schools, because if no one is watching out that means a scam school could open tomorrow and copy their business model and rip students off and it makes all the programming schools look bad. These cease and desist letters are a Very Good Thing.
  • Re: California (Score:3, Informative)

    by iamhassi (659463) on Friday January 31, 2014 @03:14PM (#46122319) Journal
    "no good reason"? This should be marked +5 Funny. How would you like to find out that your next surgery will be performed by a surgeon that was taught by a grade school dropout that had never performed surgery themselves and they just bullshitted teaching the class? That's what you are saying you want, you want doctors and lawyers that were taught by "schools" and "teachers" that have no accreditation, no proof they know what they're talking about. Or wouldn't it be nice to know the "teacher" you just paid $15,000 and studied for a year with was a scam artist and ran away with the money? Great now you wasted a year of your life and you're $15,000 in debt and have nothing to show for it. I think those are very good reasons that the state should regulate who can teach.
  • Re:California (Score:3, Informative)

    by s.petry (762400) on Friday January 31, 2014 @04:36PM (#46123099)

    Prosecuting for fraud IS regulation. And when statements like this appear:

    You should research the word "enforcement", because it is not the same as "regulation". No, you can't use them interchangeably as you are trying to do.

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