Trustees critical of Alliant-Sweetwater pact

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A new partnership between Alliant University and the Sweetwater Union High School District is drawing fire from an array of educators, including at least two Southwestern College governing board members.

Sweetwater agreed to encourage at least 50 students to enroll at the pricey, mostly-online university every year starting in 2014. SWC Board President Humberto Peraza said he does not like the arrangement.

“It should be a choice for some, I just don’t agree with how the situation with the Sweetwater district is being handled,” he said.

When students speak to a high school counselor about possible choices for their collegiate years, they should be able to go in knowing they are getting an honest opinion instead of a sales job to meet a district quota, Peraza said. Personal attention from counseling sessions could be compromised as students are steered in a direction they would not have considered otherwise, he warned.

“We cannot have biased principals and counselors pushing students towards Alliant simply because they have a quota to meet,” Peraza said.

SWC Board Member Nora Vargas agreed.

“I think students should be able to go anywhere they choose,” she said. “It is not okay for school districts to have quotas to send people to certain schools.”

Besides Alliant’s less-than-stellar academic reputation, the school is very expensive and can cost as much as elite California universities like Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA and UC San Diego. Critics are also concerned that proprietary universities like Alliant are recruiting veterans with GI Bill college money. Alliant’s San Diego campus has asked for government subsidies. Peraza said that is not acceptable.

“If Alliant wants to survive on its own as a school I think that is great, I just think it should be without taxpayer’s subsidies,” he said.

Expensive private universities like Alliant often saddle students with mountains of debt with little to show, Peraza said.

“If you are going to get a Stanford-style debt,” he said, “you should get a Stanford-style education.”

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