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Diploma Mills: Shortcut to an Education or Fast Track to Lost Cash?
The websites make big promises. They say you will have a brighter future and better paying job if you only had your high school diploma. That’s not far off from the truth; the only problem is the pitch that follows. These sites offer to sell you that diploma all you have to do is pass a few simple tests.
They are called diploma mills and are a source of frustration to education leaders who say there is no shortcut to learning. “People should be concerned because they're basically another scam,” said Derrel Fincher the Technologies Director for the Oklahoma State Department of Education, “Just another way to go out and get money from hard working people.”
A family contacted Fox 25 after they bought into the sales pitch for one of these online schools. The family was too embarrassed to go on camera, but told us they thought they were doing everything right and even called the school to get assurances the diploma was accredited. They were disappointed when they found out a few hundred dollars to “Marygrand High School” only bought them a piece of paper.
“What you get out of it is a piece of paper, but it's not a high school diploma,” Fincher told Fox 25. “It's not recognized by the state department of education. It would not be recognized by your local districts and it wouldn't be recognized by your colleges and universities.”
We called Marygrand ourselves and posed as a potential student. The person on the other end of the line assured us the diploma from Marygrand was on the “same standing” as graduating a regular high school.
To top the pitch off, Marygrand told us that we didn’t need to bother with the courses and could skip straight to the final exit exam. A test meant to challenge 17-year-olds. We could take it for free and take it as many times as it took to pass.
We asked if the Margrand diploma could get us into a community college. The sales rep was ready with an answer. “College, university, employment situations, military recruitment; I mean you finish high school.”
“It’s sad when anybody is taken advantage of when they are honestly trying to go out and do the best they can,” Fincher told Fox 25.
We called Marygrand later to ask real questions about their questionable sales pitch. A customer service representative told us that if a family is not satisfied with the service they can get a refund. “I don’t think scams offer a money back guarantee,” the rep told us.
The Marygrand rep went on to day the school cannot control whether or not universities are biased toward online educations. The rep said the diploma is accredited and graduates have used it to attend college.
When pressed the rep said he could not provide a list of any college that accepted the diploma. But Marygrand says it encourages students to check with their local college before signing buying to make sure the diploma will work. However, that is not the experience we had during our sales pitch.
The department of education says it takes pride in making sure that a diploma from an Oklahoma high school proves an education. Fincher says you should also not have to pay hundreds of dollars to get a high school education or its real equivalent, because there are a number of organizations that offer free or reduced cost tutoring to allow you to pass the GED.
“You actually have to do the work, you have to write, you have to think you have to communicate and collaborate,” Fincher said, “A good education does not just happen.”
Posted: Friday, February 8 2013, 09:37 PM CST
IN OKLAHOMA NEWS
Okla. grand jury returns new charges on ex-judge
May 23, 2013 23:32 GMT
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma's multicounty grand jury has returned new indictments against a former Lincoln County judge who already faces embezzlement and cattle theft charges.
The grand jury handed up the indictments Thursday against 47-year-old Craig S. Key of Chandler.
Key turned himself in last month to Lincoln County authorities who set bond at $10,000.
One indictment accuses Key of harboring a fugitive by allegedly encouraging a client facing criminal charges in Lincoln and Jefferson counties to flee the state to avoid prosecution.
Another charges Key with five counts of delivery of a forged note and accuses him of forging the name of a woman whose signature was required on escrow account checks that Key was also required to sign.
Key's attorney, Cheryl Ramsey of Stillwater, says the additional indictments are no surprise.
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