Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Trouble with the accreditaton system

In the last post I pointed out that, technically, the government does not accredit schools; accrediting agencies like the Higher Learning Commission exist as private entities. Indeed, Ed.gov pointedly defines accreditation thus: "Accreditation in the United States is a voluntary, nongovernmental process, in which an institution and its programs are evaluated against standards for measuring quality."

But the agencies exist in a highly political atmosphere where the Secretary of Education determines which agencies are recognized. All I can learn about the process is that their accreditation standards are reviewed by the U.S. Department of Education and must meet certain criteria. Accreditation by a recognized agency is part of the requirements for institutions to participate in federal student aid programs. Further, Ed.gov asserts that "Many employers in the United States only recognize degrees earned from institutions accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the Secretary of Education." and "In some states, it can be illegal to use a degree from an institution that is not accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency, unless approved by the state licensing agency." So, the chain of influence becomes apparent.

And, as I pointed out, the accrediting agencies' tight vested way of announcing decisions really smacks of a highly political entity.

Is this the next "Big" under attack? Has the Obama White House singled out"Big College" or "Big Diploma" or whatever they decide to name it? Is it a coincidence that on June 19, five Democrat Senators called for investigation and new regulation of for-profit colleges and universities and on June 30, Dana College loses its accreditation over its purchase by a for-profit investor? Even if it is just coincidence, the DoE and Congress have started rolling against those who have the audacity to make a profit whilst delivering an education. They've armed themselves with terms such as "Diploma Mill" and "Accreditation Shopping." If there is one thing I know about the anti-capitalist left, they invent a vocabulary, then they attack with it.

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