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Education Pioneer Stanley Kaplan, 90, Dies of Heart Ailment

Today's Detroit News carries an obituary on Stanley Kaplan, a man who founded one of the nation's premier private education companies. He began his career in the education profession in 1938 when he opened a tutoring business in the basement of his parents' house. He had hoped to attend medical school, but had been rejected, he said, because quotas at those schools for Jewish students had already been filled.

If bothered him for the rest of his life; he felt that a fair testing procedure was the way to level the playing field for all college applicants. He felt that he could help college applicants in the national entrance exam, then called the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). His tutoring class was the beginning of that effort.

His timing was excellent, as he caught the wave of GIs returning home after World War II seeking to use GI benefits in order to pursue a college education. He was at odds with the educational establishment for decades because the belief in post-secondary circles was that there was no way to study for the SAT entrance exams. A Federal Trade Commission investigation in 1979 concluded that studying could in fact raise test scores.

Kaplan's tutoring school grew into an educational monolith that he sold to the Washington Post Company in 1984. Today Kaplan University is one of the premiere education companies in the country, providing campus and distance learning services to K-12 schools, college students and, via Concord Law School, the first accredited online Juris Doctor degree in the country.

Kaplan University has also become the Washington Post Company's economic salvation, providing 58% of corporate revenue last quarter. Post board chairman Donald Graham acknowledged Mr. Kaplan's contribution to education by noting that he was "above all, a great teacher and he approached his business that way. He invented an industry, and not a small one. He was a highly principled leader of his company, and a very generous man."

Kaplan University's economic success is matched by its expansion in distance learning options. In the field of education alone it offers twelve teaching degrees, nine of which are for classroom teaching at the various grade levels in elementary, middle and high school. Kaplan University's approach to college education has been to specialize in seven professional sectors and develop comprehensive online degree options in all of them.

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