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The Democratic candidate for attorney general, Susan Happ, vows she’d join efforts by counterparts in other states to crack down on for-profit colleges that often leave students with huge amounts of debt and few career prospects or, in many cases, not even a college degree.

The issue has flared in recent years in Wisconsin, with a state board that oversees the schools finding many problems with the for-profit colleges but little authority to crack down on them. Attorneys general in other states, including Minnesota, have sued select colleges over alleged fraud.

The average one-year dropout rate among 185 for-profit schools that enroll Wisconsin students was 28 percent, according to a report last spring by the Educational Approval Board. 

An earlier effort by the EAB to impose standards for student retention, graduation rates and employment was scuttled under pressure from the industry and Wisconsin politicians. Gov. Scott Walker earlier replaced three members of the seven-member EAB board, stripping it of most institutional memory, especially with regard to the standards.

Happ said in an issue paper she wasn’t opposed to all for-profit colleges, just those deemed to be making false promises to students, especially veterans. She’d work with veterans groups to educate would-be students at the colleges of dismal retention and graduation rates.

“As Attorney General, I will investigate, prosecute and seek hefty penalties for deceptive practices, and work to see that students are made whole,” Happ said in a news release.

UW-Madison gets $3 million law school gift

A $3 million donation will be shared by top UW-Madison law school faculty members for research projects on a competitive basis, the university announced last week. It comes from a Milwaukee couple, Sheldon and Marianne Lubar, who have a history at the school — Sheldon is an alum — and who have given large financial gifts to the university and UW-Milwaukee in the past.

The money will fund an endowed faculty chair. Usually, a faculty chair goes to one person for a long-term commitment. In this case, it will go to a different person each year, paying a semester’s salary and research costs and allow the awardee to do only research during the semester.

“We hope this gift will ignite creative thinking, build a volume of legal research and put a UW-Madison brand on a wide range of scholarship that will benefit society and the practice and study of law,” Sheldon Lubar said in a statement.

Capital W: Plug in to Wisconsin politics

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