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School's Out, Forever 

The end for ITT Tech; plus, five years after privatizing liquor sales, Washingtonians' buyer's remorse

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AN EDUCATION WITHOUT A FUTURE

When the U.S. Department of Education handed down a series of restrictions on ITT TECH a couple of weeks ago, it was thought to be the for-profit college chain's death sentence.

It was.

ITT Educational Services, the company that runs ITT Tech, announced that it is shutting down all of its 130-plus campuses across the country — including the one in Spokane Valley — because of the federal restrictions. Those restrictions included a ban on ITT Tech enrolling new students who depend on federal aid, and a requirement that ITT Tech increase its reserves from $94.4 million to $247.3 million.

ITT Tech offers on-campus and online business, health sciences, and electronics and information courses. The college was the target of a lawsuit from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal agency that accused the college of predatory lending practices and of pushing students toward high-interest private loans while knowing that most students couldn't pay them.

A majority of ITT Tech's revenue comes from federal student loans.

The company, in a statement, noted that any allegations against it have not been proven in court, and claims that the restrictions constitute a federal government overreach.

"For more than half a century, ITT Tech has helped hundreds of thousands of nontraditional and underserved students improve their lives through career-focused technical education. Thousands of employers have relied on our institutions for skilled workers in high-demand fields," says the statement. "We have been a mainstay in more than 130 communities that we served nationwide, as well as an engine of economic activity and a positive innovator in the higher-education sector."

The U.S. Department of Education, in a statement announcing the restrictions, says that ITT Tech has twice been found out of compliance with its accreditor's standards, adding that the college has put students, and millions in taxpayer-funded student aid, at risk.

ITT Tech says the federal action has led to the termination of more than 8,000 ITT Tech employees. The campuses have been shut down immediately, canceling September quarter. The college reportedly enrolled more than 40,000 students nationwide. (WILSON CRISCIONE)

WASHINGTON'S HANGOVER

It's been nearly five years since about 60 percent of Washington voters passed I-1183, a ballot initiative that closed state-run liquor retailers and put grocery stores in charge of selling booze. But a study recently published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs shows that a significant portion of Washingtonians are having buyer's remorse regarding the PRIVATIZATION OF LIQUOR SALES.

The study, funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, is based on a poll of 1,202 adult Washingtonians who researchers contacted by phone in 2014, two years after the measure went into effect. The results revealed that "those who voted Yes on I-1183 had almost eight times the odds of wanting to change their votes compared with those who voted No."

"Our results indicate that the outcome of the election in which I-1183 was passed would likely have been different if voters could know their future opinions of the actual situation resulting from privatization," concludes the study.

The campaign for I-1183, backed by grocers who wanted in on the liquor market, promised better availability and prices. While the measure increased the number of stores selling spirits to 1,600, up from the 330 state stores, it also placed a new tax rate on booze that made it 5 to 15 percent more expensive. However, the study suggests that it's the increase in number of stores, not the increase in prices, that's likely the bigger cause of voter regrets. (JAKE THOMAS)

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