Saturday, March 17, 2007

National's Legislative End Run Around Reality

As I have pointed out earlier, nationally accredited schools ("nationals") credits generally do not transfer to regionally accredited schools ("regionals") while regionals' credits almost always do. According to the ACCSCT only 18% of nationals' credits were accepted by regionals. Why is this, because regionals have much more rigorous accrediting standards than nationals do, and there are only six regional accreditors while there are numerous national accreditors. Regionally accreditors almost exclusively accredit academic oriented institutions. National accreditors accredit schools which teach denture making, landscape design, cosmetic and beauty, massage, acupuncture, schools just to name a few. So, nationals are generally offering, well selling, an academically inferior product. This has historically left them feeling, well a little bereft and more importantly, costs them money and affects their bottom line, and remember, most of them are for profit, bottom lines are important. Now, in a free market one would expect them to improve their product, i.e., apply for regional accreditation, nothing is stopping them, well outside of the that fact that would have to spend more money on faculty and facilities, thereby cutting into their ... bottom line. There goes that bottom line thing again. However, there is another way! Lobby! Have the federal government, more or less declare them to be equal. Think presidential signing statement. It's amusing how capitalists who love the free market versus regulation, can fall out of love with the free market very quickly when it fails to accomplish their goals. Fickle, huh. Profit can be. Imagine, the government telling one car dealership that they have to accept another dealer's cars for trade in without any discount. Rather anti-free market I should think. Well that is what the nationals are doing. Now of course they will tell you that they are being discriminated against. What they are doing is tantamount to:

That's like say I'm selling GEO's and my customers are upset because they cannot trade their GEOs in for BMWS. Now I could retool my factories to make GEOs, of course it would mean that I would have to spend a great deal of money and abandon my business model which is, hmmmm, well to make GEOs because they are cheaper to make oooorrrrrrrrrr I could just lobby the federal government to prohibit BMV dealers from not accepting my GEOs in trade for BMVs just because they are GEOs. In other words, they would have to evaluate each GEO, to make sure it is indeed inferior to a BMV. The basis and rationale for my request would be the proposition that since both GEOs and BMVs are cars, there is no reason for GEOs to be "discriminated" against by being valued less than BMV. Amusing, huh?

Yes, for some time now, for-profit colleges have been lobbying a friendly congress (well until 2006 at least) and administration to amend the Higher Education Act or promulgate regulations in order to stop the haughty regionals from rejecting credits from the nationals solely because they are, well, nationals. At this point I will cite the Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers most cogent argument explaining why here. If you can take the time you will have received a encapsulated argument against the nationals attempts to rewrite federal law in their favor. Caril Lynn Hennessy also makes a good argument against this legislative end run. Understanding all of this might take a little bit of history.

Coming back to the nationals big argument is that the Department of Education does not distinguish between national and regional accreditation when it comes to eligibility for federal educational grants and loans, the currency of higher education and of course what allows for profit education -- these students don't pay for the education, at least not initially, we the tax payer does --- hmmm, I sense another blog post. So if the Department of Education makes no distinction why should the accreditors? Hmmm, in other words a GEO and a BMV are both cars as far as the government is concerned so why should one be valued over the other . . . other than, well one is better than the other one.

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