There’s a for-profit college in Huntington Park that’s going to shut down soon.
None of the above. It’s for reasons that happen all the time but don’t often draw media attention. It’s the story of a small, independent, immigrant-owned business with deep roots in Los Angeles that was praised by students but couldn’t keep up with changing market forces.
A-Technical College, which is scheduled to close on Aug. 15, will add to the list of 46 for-profit colleges in California that have closed so far this year, the 118 that closed last year, and the 145 that closed the year before, according to the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education.
The college’s one-year programs train people to become medical assistants, administrative assistants, and massage therapists. It attracts students like Yarixa Sanchez and Amelia Lucas, who stood together outside the college’s massage therapy classrooms when the school’s shutdown was announced.
“You do grow like a bond, it’s pretty much like family. And knowing that we have to separate, it is pretty sad,” Sanchez said.
THE HISTORY OF A-TECHNICAL
A-Technical College began 40 years ago as the Virginia Sewing Machine & School Center. It was founded by Sara Cristi, an immigrant from Chile who moved to Los Angeles and joined her brother selling industrial sewing machines.
“But the people [started] asking me how I sew a zipper, how I can attach a collar. I didn’t know, so I hire an instructor,” Cristi said in an interview in her office shortly after the school shutdown was announced. “I said thank you very much, brother, but I will open my own school.”
For decades the school grew, until apparel manufacturing in L.A. shrunk to an asterisk. About five years ago Cristi, who’s also the college’s chief executive officer, shifted instruction.
“We started with medical assistant, with professional administrative assistant [to] prepare people for working in an office… so we were growing, growing, growing,” she said.
Then another storm hit — this time, it was the tightening regulations that held for-profit colleges… (continue reading)