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AACS Government Relations Chairman Responds to Inside Higher Ed

AACS Government Relations Chairman Responds to Inside Higher Ed

Good Morning Kery:

Thank you for writing an article that, at least, tried to be fair and balanced. I would like to address a few aspects of the story that I believe portrayed our schools in a less than favorable light. To begin with, my name is spelled Neal. I got the distinct impression that you didn’t necessarily see the importance of what our schools provide to our students. Although, we would not be considered a traditional college or university, we are nevertheless an integral part of the higher education system in this country. As a graduate of the University of Miami and Nova Southeastern University Law School I certainly know the value of a college and grad school education. I also know that for millions of Americans traditional college is not in their best interests. Our students seek training in a specific career field which is what we provide. Our schools meet the requirements mandated by individual state statutes so that upon completion a graduate can sit for a state board exam and become a licensed professional. Our programs touch every aspect of the multi-billion dollar Beauty, Health and Wellness industry. Depending on the program they choose, our graduates are working as; Cosmetologists, Barbers, Massage Therapists, Estheticians, Nail Techs, Electrologists, etc. All require a state license. These are all thriving and rapidly growing fields with zero chance for outsourcing of jobs. As we have become a service oriented country the services our graduates provide are a big part of society. Every single person in every single state, city or town is in some way touched by one of our graduates.

While we don’t offer certain degrees found in traditional colleges and universities, such as; Humanities, Art History, Anthropology, Sociology and the ever important, Liberal Arts, we do offer short term programs that lead directly to what is of the utmost importance to every graduate, a job, a career.

Your article used the term “painting nails”. We do not teach Nail painting. We do teach manicures and pedicures which involve polishing, shaping and cleaning finger nails and toe nails for both aesthetic and health reasons. We do not teach “doing hair”. We do teach hair styling, sculpting, cutting, designs, coloring, etc. We do not teach the theory of styling hair. We do teach Basic Anatomy and Physiology, Chemistry of the hair, Sanitation and Sterilization, etc.

Your take on what we teach and what our students learn came off as somewhat condescending. It was almost made to sound as if we are not worthy of receiving federal assistance in these unprecedented times. Harvard, Princeton and the like were shamed into giving back their portion of the CARES Act. Make no mistake about it they applied for it and were going to take the money. The American Association of Cosmetology Schools member institutions should not be portrayed as less than and made to feel ashamed to participate in a program designed to help the very people most affected by this pandemic, our students and our small business school owners.

I very much appreciate you speaking with me and writing an article that tried to show our side of the story. I hope that we can maintain a dialogue and that I can be of assistance to you when you write about our industry in the future.

Very Truly Yours,

Neal R. Heller, Esq.

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