Friday, November 1, 2013

More laughs from accreditation


Losing Accredition: More Laughs

By Professor Doom

 

A while back, I wrote about City College of San Francisco getting its accreditation revoked, sort of. The reasons for this, in brief, involve insufficient administrative bloat (!) and lack of “assessments” regarding the students. These complaints from the accreditor began in 2006, and never were resolved, leading to a final threat of removing accreditation in July, 2014.

Not that long ago, a school didn’t even need accreditation to survive, and losing accreditation wasn’t a death knell for the institution. Unfortunately, there’s a massive Federal student loan scheme that just floods accredited schools with money…and gives absolutely nothing to non-accredited schools. The vast sums to accredited schools mean they have the money to provide huge administrative salaries and legions of administrators—faculty are a minority on campuses today. No matter how lean an unaccredited school is, it can’t survive—what student would go there when he can get “free checks” at an accredited institution?

 

Administrative Announcement: “Due to the budget crisis, there will be a hiring freeze for both faculty and administration. I trust we all agree this is fair.”

--it sure sounds fair, but  the “hiring freeze” makes it clear that administration is every bit as important to higher education as teaching and research. Feel free to look for a mission statement of any institution that says anything of the sort.

 

Take away that money, and the accredited school implodes immediately…no sweet loan checks to support the administrative bloat, and as shown in the past, administrators will gut faculty pay to the point that faculty qualify for welfare before sacrificing their own salary. That’s what admin thinks is “fair,” after all.

On top of this, of course, is the belief that accredited schools are legitimate, but this belief is pure rubbish, as I’ve shown repeatedly. The Federal government has a hands-off approach to accreditation, so never checks to see what accreditors are doing; in a similar vein, accreditors really only notice the most massive of fraud at schools they accredit. This is no surprise, since accreditation is run by the same people that run the schools.

Anyway, I wrote my essay on CCSF and ended with the belief that it would be considered “too big to fail.” Sure enough, it looks like I was right, as the Federal government is looking to overrule the loss of accreditation that is planned for 2014:

The accreditation crisis taking place at the City College of San Francisco (CCSF) took a turn in favor of campus advocates. The US Department of Education got involved, and sent the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) a notice that it is “out of compliance” with federal regulations.

Words cannot describe how jaw-dropping this is. Time and again I’ve seen accredited institutions engage in massive fraud, with nary a peep from the accreditor; any complaint to the Federal government just gets the response of basically “we let the accreditor determine such things, as we’re not the regulating body.”

Now, an accreditor makes a decision the Feds don’t like, and it’s a problem.

“Out of compliance,” they say. I’ve identified before that accreditation is run by administrators, not faculty, which is a big part of why accreditation is a joke—educators have no say in education. It’s been that way for years and years, and up until now, the Federal government hasn’t cared about this glaring problem, but now, suddenly, it is:

“One academician on an evaluation team comprised of eight and 16 individuals, as was the case for April 2013 and March 2012 evaluation teams, respectively, of CCSF, is not reasonable representation.”

--excerpt from the report. Only one academic on each team of evaluators of an academic institution? Accreditation really is this much of a joke. Does anyone really believe the one-sidedness of the evaluation teams is a fluke? The near complete lack of scholarship of the evaluators of an institution makes it clear that scholarship is all but irrelevant to accreditation. Anything that lone academic has to say will be brutally overruled by the administrators.

The pro-administrative bias doesn’t end just with the committee; the composition of the committee also included the spouse of the ACCJC’s president being on the commission (gee whiz). There is also some lack of clarity over what a “recommendation” means (sometimes it’s just advice, sometimes it’s something the institution MUST do). In short, the government wants CCSF to have more time, and will de-accredit ACCJC (putting them right out of business) if they don’t fix their own issues. I’m certain CCSF won’t eventually lose accreditation, as ACCJC will be committing suicide if they do.

 

...accreditation should “focus on faculty development, teacher training, overhaul the evaluation process which includes more observations and content review of some curriculum and assignments.”

--advice from faculty over what accreditation should actually be doing. Too bad administrators are wildly unqualified to do anything scholarly like that. I find the advice of “content review” particularly hilarious; I’m clearly not the only one sick of totally bogus courses being peddled as higher education, and sincerely wishes accreditation would have academics take a real look at the crap being sold to students for ridiculously large sums.

 

Hypocrisy aside, the Federal government does have some legitimate issues with what’s going on with CCSF. The question remains: why now? The Federal government has overlooked some awesome instances of fraud before, far worse than anything going on at CCSF, trusting accreditation to take care of it, but there’s an important message here:

Accreditation can overlook massive fraud as long as it keeps on accrediting. Accreditation can do nothing about accredited schools that are in violation year after year, as the Federal government will complain and annihilate the accreditor if need be.

Any accrediting body following what’s going on here is sure to get the message: never withdraw accreditation. This bodes even worse for the future of higher education.

Think about it.