Thursday, April 26, 2007

What's the Difference Between Vocational and Academic Education? Campaign Contributions!

Well obviously there are other differences, most notably quality! Regional accreditation conferred on academic, mainly non-profit institutions is far superior to national accreditation which is generally conferred on vocational, technical and career colleges. However if you put enough money in the pockets of the powers that be -- in this case politicians -- you can bend reality to suit what you think it should be, or more specifically the version that you can profit from. Of course, in the phrase "for-profit education" the inflection is on profit!

Speaking of phrases, remember the phrase, history is written by the victors? Well reality can be written by those who contribute the most (lobbyists) to those who shape it, (politicians). Remember the Bush Administration's Clear Sky's Act which, in a rather Orwellian sense, would produce more pollution. It can be difficult to dodge the subterfuge in the title of some legislature. The key to ascertaining the truth is to examine the what politician is sponsoring it, or better yet, the party sponsoring the sponsor! Well the coal, oil and gas industry sponsored Bush so that indicates that the Clear Skys Initiative, regardless of its title, would help the energy industry and thus not lead to clear skies at all, quite the opposite. Got it now?

So, let's apply that lesson to the bill College Access and Opportunity Act which was sponsored by the Hon. John Boehner who is pictured above. That bill, fortunately, languished at the end of the 109th Congress. However, like any cinematic monstrosity, there will be a sequel. Anyway, let's look past the benign title of the bill and see who sponsors its sponsor John Boehner. According to Campus-Progress Mr. Boehner receives tens of thousands of dollars from the for-profits educational industry (He receives lots of money from banks that make federally guaranteed loans to students too, but that is another blog entry). So considering the sponsorship of the bill, well the dual sponsors, John Boehner and well his sponsors, the for-profit education industry, one has to think this bill might have to do more with for-profit education's access and opportunity rather than anyone else! Hmmm, ironically enough, the bill may be appropriated named! Well, the lesson worked! This bill is a great boon or investment return for the sponsors aka the for profit education industry, an industry worth at least $26 billion and funded mostly by the federal government student aid programs. They win big if it passes.

Let's take one provision, language that would state that no regionally accredited school could reject a nationally accredited school's (most of which are for-profits) credits just because they are nationally accredited schools. We visited this topic briefly in a previous entry. This would mean that regionally accredited schools would have to evaluate every single credit in order to justify its rejection. To fully understand exactly what some of these nationally accredited schools teach, let's look at the schools the ACCSCT (American Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology) accredits.

The ACCSCT is the national accreditor which accredits Crown College and is a major force behind the transfer of credits legislation that would favor the schools it accredits. They are one of the largest national accreditors. According to their Accreditation Standards and the schools they accredit it becomes clear why regionally accredited schools are very reluctant to take nationally accredited schools credits. ACCSCT only accredits schools, as defined in I.A.11 of their Standards of Accreditation, which are "postsecondary institution with trade, occupational, or career-oriented educational objectives" not academic educational objectives! This fact becomes even more clear when one looks at the 802 schools they accredit, only a small percentage of which even offer degrees and a smaller amount still that offer bachelors degrees. Looking at a directory of schools they accredit. They accredit schools that teach massage therapy, refrigeration, helicopter aviation, pet grooming, cosmetology, and culinary arts just too name a few. The majority of the schools they accredit offer diplomas or certificates in trades and are obviously not academically oriented. It is also obvious why a regionally accredited school, academically oriented college or university would not want to accept their credits for transfer. To make these schools evaluate each credit is rather ridiculous. What cosmetology or pet grooming credits are going to transfer to the University of Washington or Yale University and how much money should they have to spend to "evaluate" them????

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