In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call, I discuss the recent study done by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity on higher ed accreditation. The authors conclude that college accreditation served some useful purposes back in the day when it was voluntary, but now that federal policy has made it almost mandatory (schools aren't able to accept federal student aid money unless they have been given the stamp of approval by a "recognized" accrediting body), its value is questionable. I think they're correct. Accreditation does virtually nothing to ensure educational quality, but it does impose substantial costs, more implicit than explicit. It also raises a significant barrier to entry into higher education by new and innovative providers. Until we cut the Gordian Knot and get the feds out of financing education, we ought to find a better means of keeping people from using Pell Grants to purchase bogus degrees from colleges that only offer a pretense of education. Accreditation is a poor tool for accomplishing that.
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni has released a report card on public higher education in the state of Illinois. According to the ACTA press release:
The report card, entitled For the People, surveys 10 public four-year universities that together educate more than 90 percent of students enrolled at such institutions in Illinois. It offers a Pass or Fail grade in four key areas: what a college education costs, how the universities are governed, what students are learning and whether the marketplace of ideas is vibrant.
The institutions, as it happened, failed ACTA's standards in all four areas. Download the 66-page For the People report Download the 2-page executive summary
Should a college lose accreditation just over a shaky financial situation? Should we use accreditation as the touchstone for eligibility for federal student aid funds? In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call, I take a look at a battle in North Carolina involving St. Andrews Presbyterian College. The school is in serious financial trouble, and the threatened loss of accreditation would probably kill it. I answer both questions in the negative.
University social work programs rarely attract outside attention. They subsist deep down in the bowels of their host institutions, generating a decent cash flow but little in the way of intellectual excitement. They do, however, have one dubious distinction. Like no other academic program, they are politicized throughout their warp and woof. Sociology, anthropology, even education could, if fully liberated from tendentiousness, still survive as fields. It’s questionable whether this is true of social work. Launched in the spirit of progressivism, its doxology has by now absorbed almost every mental reflex of the left.