Friday, November 7, 2014

Accreditation to Die Overnight?

By Professor Doom

     The Federal student loan scam program only disburses funds to accredited schools of higher education. The reason this is so is due to the Higher Education Act (HEA), which specifies that accreditation, and only accreditation, is key to getting all that sweet student loan loot, loot that does nothing for education but pumps up mightily the salaries of administrators in higher education.  

     Accreditation, before the Federal student loan program existed, used to be about education. Accredited schools used to be legitimate schools that cared about education…accreditation was a final seal of legitimacy.

      The HEA changed that…accreditation became about money. I was with a school that went through the accreditation process. Once that school became accredited, being legitimate was no longer necessary—the student loan money flows in mightily from scammers that are there for the checks (after administration takes their cut). Once accredited, I, and other legitimate faculty, were kicked in the balls repeatedly harassed by the institution until we resigned because we no longer were desired.

     The HEA is renewed every few years, and the renewal scheduled for 2014 has a clause in it that’s devastating for accreditation:

     Ho. Lee. Crap. If accreditation is decoupled from federal financing, whatever will it be for? Administration in higher education took over accreditation years ago, warping into something that has nothing to do with education at all. If accreditation isn’t linked to federal loans, it’ll become a joke. Oh wait, it’s already a joke, as I’ve shown in detail, many times.

     So the Federal government wants to annihilate accreditation, and I have to admit they’re pretty justified in doing so…accreditation as it stands today is a horrific embarrassment. My preference would be to fix accreditation by putting educators back in charge (like it used to be), among many other things. Strangely, accreditation isn’t being removed because it’s a fraud, a joke, and has nothing to do with education. Instead, it’s being removed for other reasons:

Currently, accreditation is a de facto federal enterprise, with federally sanctioned regional and national accrediting agencies being the sole purveyors of accreditation.”

     Absolutely, regional accreditation is a private monopoly that is not a government organization; a private monopoly that operated that way would be deemed illegal and shut down. Yet somehow this monopoly regulator influences the 1.2 trillion dollars of student debt we have now. How does anyone look at that number and think accreditation has been a good steward of the student loan money?   

“The result has been a system that has created barriers to entry for innovative start-ups by insulating traditional brick-and-mortar schools from market forces that could reduce costs.”

     Ho. Lee. Crap. Times 2.  More than $1,000,000,000,000 has been pissed away via bogus accreditation, and accreditation is a barrier? Accreditation is a “barrier” to spending like a sheet of toilet paper is a barrier to bullets. I’m all for new ideas, but I know what will happen if a ton of money will get splashed down for any cockamamie new idea. I’ve seen tons of money pissed away on crazy, obviously bad, ideas for education as it is.

     The HEA isn’t getting rid of accreditation as a way to reduce the student loan scam, the new HEA is going to make it even easier for that student loan money to be wasted. Perhaps I’m misinterpreting, let’s read more explanation:

“ The existing accreditation regime has also made it difficult for students to customize their higher education experience to fully reach their earnings and career potential. “

     It’s funny how government always refers to a system it doesn’t like as a “regime.” That said, the federal regime is right to insinuate that the current system of accreditation is illicit…the Feds should totally know what illicit is. 

     Still, getting rid of accreditation will allow “customization” of higher education by the student? I, uh, don’t think that’s a good idea. Part of the reason the scam got so huge is avaricious administrators reduced higher education to bogus courses about not shaving and such, while (understandably clueless) high school graduates gladly signed up for coursework that they couldn’t possibly know was bogus. Students have already been allowed to customize themselves right out of an education. Asking students to “customize” their education is a terrible idea. If it’s really about earnings and career potential, then let’s use this money so that students can get career apprenticeships.

     And, incidentally, there’s no such thing as an apprenticeship where the apprentice gets to customize what he does.

     And because entire institutions are accredited instead of individual courses, accreditation is a poor measure of course quality and a poor indicator of the skills acquired by students.”

    This reasoning is wrong on several levels, it has nothing to do with “because entire institutions are accredited”, it’s the accredited that is the problem. Bottom line, because accreditation is bogus and has nothing to do with education, accreditation is a poor measure of course quality and skills acquired…as I showed in detail, accreditation has nothing to do with course quality and skills acquisition. To be honest, accreditation never makes such a claim today, and it shouldn’t.

 “As former Senator Hank Brown (R–CO) notes, “The accountability metrics crucial to protecting students and taxpayers would be much more effectively and efficiently handled outside the accreditation process. “

     I totally agree. Since accreditation is a joke, students and taxpayers will totally be MORE effectively and efficiently protected outside of the accreditation process. Note: accreditation is currently completely ineffective at protecting students and taxpayers, so improving on such protection is a low bar indeed. You could have accreditation qualified and renewed via Punxsutawney Phil and it would be far more effective (and reasonable) than current accreditation. 

“Theese eeese pure eediocy!”

--a German professor’s response at a faculty meeting regarding accreditation recommendations to put an outreach program to attract female STEM students inside of an outreach program to attract female STEM students. The previous sentence is typed as intended.

     So, the Federal government is catching on that accreditation is a joke. Getting rid of it is an option, but I don’t see a plan to replace it. Since the student loan scam will continue, we probably should have something, right?

     I’m seeing pretty hefty potential for fraud here. I guess I can take some pleasure that a different set of fraudsters will be looting the tax dollars? Looking around the ‘net, I don’t see any plan for replacing accreditation, but I did see an accreditor crying that the new HEA will make accreditation worthless. Yes, accreditor, that’s the point.


  1. I've long believed that accreditation is a joke, largely because the process by which qualifications for it are assessed and the manner in which it's granted.

    Being accredited is a convenient tag that a department or institution fastens to itself in order to impress the "bread and circuses" crowd. It looks impressive, but, on the whole, it has about as much meaning as a company saying that it's "ISO XXXXX certified" or "green" or one one of Coleslawvania's "Top 100" firms.

    Accreditation is like Shakespeare wrote in "Macbeth", "...a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

    I can say that because I was a part of three of such processes: two at the place where I used to teach and one where I completed my Ph. D. The latter turned out to be outstandingly bogus.

    The accreditation committee that visited our department was comprised largely of university professors and corporate managers. Few of those, if any, had any first-hand knowledge of what graduates would be doing after they received their degrees. Frankly, I doubt that any of them ever spent any time in the field, let alone in a design office or a shop floor.

    The only contribution the students were allowed to make was either by explaining what they were doing if the committee happened to stop by their labs or by filling out paper surveys. None, not one of them, ever asked me personally what I thought. If they did, I would have told them point-blank, particularly since I had spent several years in industry and I knew that the education the undergrads were getting was inadequate. As well, much of the research that was done was pure twaddle and had no place in an engineering department. (On the other hand, my Ph. D. supervisor was a physicist and he was of the opinion that engineers didn't belong in an engineering department as grad students. Figure that one out, if you can.)

    Accreditation is based on a pre-determined conclusion or outcome, with the assessments merely there to gather or, perhaps, fabricate evidence to produce or support it.


    The White House is going to enforce better accreditation according to the news!

    But reading the raw information for this story shows that the opposite is going to happen. Interestingly, the Huffington Post actually has a story about how easy it is to get a teaching degree!

    Laughably easy! And the White House, to fix the 'teacher' problem is going to fix this by checking the actual courses being taught for teachers...and as Dr. Doom knows so very well, this is one cess pool that won't be flushed out so easy.