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News U.S. Government takeover of currently independant college/university accreditation

  1. Sep 17, 2010 #1
    While looking into the accreditation of graduate school programs earlier this week, I was shocked to find the following three items in the news:

    http://www.ccu.edu/centennial/blog/post/2010/08/03/Breaking-Potential-Government-Takeover-of-Private-Colleges.aspx" [Broken], Centennial Institute



    I wasn't shocked that our U.S. government has proposed legislation to take over the currently private and independant accreditation system for colleges and universities. I wasn't shocked to discover the wide discrepancy between salaries. I wasn't shocked to learn of misappropriation of funds in some schools.

    I was shocked that I hadn't heard more about this on the news!

    So, I did some more digging and discovered the following information, from these and other sources:

    - The current administration wants to shift the accreditation process from the private sector to state governmental agencies.

    - The Department of Education appears to be behind the push

    - From my Congressman, "The rules, as currently written, threaten to undermine the academic freedom and First Amendment rights of colleges and universities by forcing them to meet potentially arbitrary standards set by state bureaucrats. Additionally, the proposed government regulations are ambiguously worded and would create uncertainty for institutions of higher learning in an already uncertain economic environment."

    - Although the states will have oversight, they'll be complying with federal mandates for fuzzy terms such as "adverse action." The degree of oversight is non-specific, which means that some states will exercise restraint, while others will become deeply over-involved in "setting course requirements, quality measures, faculty qualifications and various mandates about how and what to teach."

    - First Amendment rights are at stake, giving the states control over what's taught at private colleges, most notably those involving religious themes.

    - William L. Armstrong, president of Colorado Christian University, says, "This whole idea of political supervision of higher education is ominous. The nation’s colleges and universities should not be subjugated by federal and state government. The Department of Education intends to implement these radical proposals in November. But officials will back away if congressmen and senators start demanding justification."

    - Richard Bishirjian, President, Yorktown University, says, "This is an attempt to politicize higher education by attacking the independent accreditation associations. I am concerned that politicians could use the accreditation process to force a political agenda onto our universities and colleges."

    - Bob Schaffer, Chairman, Colorado State Board of Education, states: "The historic strength of the American higher-education system can be directly attributed to its independence from government agents and political authorities. Seizing authority from the academic private sector and moving it wholly to the government-bureaucracy sector is the quickest way to terminate the intellectual freedom that has set America apart from every other nation and has made our society the most prosperous in the history of human civilization."

    Quite frankly, I agree with these statements, and share their concern about these proposed changes. I feel there is a huge potential for abuse, for few governments can resist the temptation to tell those beneath them what to think, why to think it, and how to act, justifying it by stating "it's for their own good" or "it's in everyone's best interests."

    Phooey! Our government was founded on hard lessons learned that governments are incapable of keeping their fingers out of the pie, thus the best approach was to severely limit government involvement in the private affairs of its citizens. I personally believe one's choice of higher education is a very personal affair, a decision made jointly between the student and the school. It may not be perfect, but I'm fairly certain the proposed changes are most certainly not an improvement.

    A bit more on the accreditation process here in the U.S.:

    "In the United States, colleges and universities voluntarily seek accreditation from nongovernmental bodies. There are two types of educational accreditation: institutional and specialized. Institutional accreditation is provided by regional and national associations of schools and colleges. There are six regional associations, each named after the region in which it operates (Middle States, New England, North Central, Northwest, Southern, Western). The regional associations are independent of one another, but they cooperate extensively and acknowledge one another’s accreditation. Several national associations focus on particular kinds of institutions (for example, trade and technical colleges and religious colleges and universities). An institutional accrediting agency evaluates an entire educational organization in terms of its mission and the agency’s standards or criteria."​

    Although I was an instructor in the Air Force, I've never worked in non-governmental academia. Many of you are, and I'd like to hear your thoughts on the matter!

    Thank you.

    - Mugs
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 17, 2010 #2


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    Re: U.S. Government takeover of currently independant college/university accreditatio

    I've never worked in academia, but I have a hard time believing this would really make much of a difference with respect to what would be required to gain accreditation. Heck, government-sponsored accrediting bodies would probably be staffed by exactly the same people staffing the current private ones.

    It makes me wonder what the point is. Maybe you eliminate some administrative duplication of effort, but so what?
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