This week, the food press jumped on the news that all 16 Le Cordon Bleu cooking schools across the U.S. will close. That's accurate. But most of the stories—which equate these campuses with the venerated Paris-based institute that taught Julia Child—are misleading. The legendary Le Cordon Bleu has no American schools to close.
These U.S. schools, called Le Cordon Bleu thanks to a licensing deal with the original institution, are being closed by their owner, Career Education Corporation—an embattled operator of vocational schools. The closings come alongside the Obama administration's crackdown on for-profit education, but CEC's troubles are nothing new. In 2013, the company paid out a multi-million-dollar class action settlement for what the U.S. Attorney General called deceptive recruitment practices. The Senate called out CEC in a 2012 report on the use of federal funds in for-profit education. In prior years, CEC was investigated by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The concern, in most of these investigations, has been that such schools usually require students to take high-interest loans and overstate students' post-grad employment prospects for recruitment purposes. There's no implication about the quality of the instruction, though some critics have reacted harshly to this news: On Twitter, Alton Brown called LCB a "culinary puppy mill."