FAIL STATE: A Screening and Conversation

FAIL STATE: A Screening and Conversation

Date and Time

  • Wednesday, March 28, 2018 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, Rotunda & Theatre

5998 Alcala Park San Diego, CA 92110




Presented by the University of San Diego School of Law’s Children’s Advocacy Institute

In an expansive documentary exposé, Fail State investigates the dark side of American higher education, chronicling decades of policy decisions in Washington DC that have given rise to a powerful and highly-predatory for-profit college industry. With echoes of the subprime mortgage crisis, the film lays bare how for-profit colleges exploited millions of low-income and minority students, leaving them with worthless degrees and drowning in student loan debt. Director Alexander Shebanow traces the rise, fall, and resurgence of the for-profit college industry, uncovering their Wall Street backing and incestuous relationship with the regulators and lawmakers charged with overseeing them. Fail State is executive produced by news legend Dan Rather.

The event is free, but registraton is required. 

The University of San Diego School of Law is a State Board of California-approved MCLE provider. This event has been approved for 2.5 hours of general credit.


5:30 p.m. Reception (hors d’oeuvres and soft drinks)

6:00 p.m. Welcome and Screening (the movie will start at 6:05 p.m.)

7:35 p.m. Panel discussion and Q&A

8:30 p.m. Event ends


Marty Block When Marty Block won election to the California State Senate in 2012, his fellow lawmakers immediately recognized him as one of the most respected voices on higher education in the Legislature. The senator from San Diego spent most of his professional career in the halls of academia—as a professor, a dean and a legal advisor at San Diego State University. During an academic career spanning 26 years, Block received “outstanding” faculty awards five times.

After two distinguished terms representing the 78th Assembly District, Block was elected in the 39th Senate District, which takes in much of San Diego along with Coronado, Del Mar, and Solana Beach. Block, who also served as president of the San Diego Community College District board, was chosen to chair the Senate Education Budget Subcommittee. One of his bills signed into law in 2014 was a “game changing” educational reform, for the first time allowing community college districts across the state to develop pilot programs offering four-year degrees. This landmark legislation will increase access to university-level education in communities beset by high unemployment and low rates of residents with advanced degrees. Each of these very affordable degrees (about $10,000 for four years) will provide students with skills that are in high demand. The goal … a job waiting for each student upon graduation.

Upon his retirement from the Senate in December of 2016, Block was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to lead California’s Unemployment Insurance Appeals system. In that capacity he oversees 150 Administrative Law Judges in thirteen offices across the state. Block earned his B.A. degree from Indiana University and his J.D. from DePaul University.

Melanie Delgado is senior staff attorney at the Children’s Advocacy Institute (CAI), where she has worked since 2006. She is Director of CAI’s Transition Age Youth Projects and has extensive expertise in the area of services, programs, and funding for youth aging out of the foster care system. Delgado has authored several reports, including CAI’s recently released report on state regulation of private for-profit postsecondary institutions, Failing U. Melanie chairs quarterly meetings of the Children’s Advocates’ Roundtable, an affiliation of statewide and regional children's policy organizations in California, representing an array of issue disciplines.

Delgado is a graduate of the University of San Diego School of Law, where she was a co-recipient of the James A. D’Angelo Outstanding Child Advocate Award in 2006.  She received her Bachelor of Arts in political science with a minor in international relations from the University of San Diego.

Robert F. Muth is the supervising attorney for the Veterans Legal Clinic at the University of San Diego School of Law. The clinic represents student veterans in disputes with for-profit institutions over the use of GI Bill funds and predatory lending. The goal of the Veterans Clinic is both to assist individuals who have been defrauded as well as to conduct outreach to the community to educate veterans, reservists and active duty personnel before they sign enrollment agreements.

Muth is a former Captain and Judge Advocate in the U.S. Marine Corps. Shortly after 9/11, he was commissioned as an Officer in the Marine Corps. He served in the individual ready reserve while attending law school at Duke University School of Law and in 2005 returned to active duty. He worked primarily as a defense counsel and handled a wide range of criminal cases, and was also deployed to Iraq for 13 months. While deployed, he served as the Senior Defense Counsel for the Marine Corps in Iraq. Muth was named the Defense Counsel of the Year in 2008-2009 by the Navy-Marine Corps Trial Judiciary, Western Judicial Circuit. In 2009, he left active duty in the Marines and went into private practice with a civil litigation firm, Godes & Preis LLP, primarily representing corporate clients. In November, 2017, Muth was recognized as San Diego County Veteran of the Year.

Alexander Shebanow, Fail State’s director, producer and writer, is a political documentary filmmaker who started his career making documentaries on non-profit organizations around the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2013, he began working on his directorial debut feature, Fail State, an expansive documentary exposé on predatory for-profit colleges and worsening inequality in American higher education. Fail State premiered in the fall of 2017 to packed houses at Austin Film Festival and DOC NYC, garnering strong press attention and rave reviews. The film is in the midst of its nationwide film festival tour and will be released publicly in 2018. Alexander's other documentary work include short films on music therapy for children with autism and the life-changing power of sports and fitness programs for people with physical disabilities. Alexander attended Foothill Community College before finishing his studies at the University of Southern California.

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