Wednesday, June 20, 2007

For-Profit's Lose Out On Transfer of Credits Clause - Money Can't Buy Everything

Well the Senate has revealed the Higher Education Renewal Act and after a cruel feint, that almost gave this blogger a restless night, the for-profit education industry and their campaign contributions have failed to bend reality to their liking again. Despite the fact, that it was included in an earlier draft, there will be no provision mandating that traditional academic universities not solely take into account accreditation when considering whether or not to accept credits from for-profit nationally accredited schools which are overwhelmingly career, technical and vocational in nature. Now that's a mouthful but in essence, as we stated before, for-profit, nationally accredited schools have wanted legislation that dictates that regionally accredited schools cannot reject their transfer credits just because they come, well, from nationally accredited schools.

Now nationally accredited, for-profit schools have been screaming that they are being discriminated against when regionally accredited schools consider the accreditation of nationally accredited schools when making a determination whether or not to accept credits transfered from those schools. Ironically enough, though for-profit schools trumpet the virtues of the free enterprise system, they have sought recourse in the regulatory process, at least as concerns righting this perceived wrong. They have appeared to be on the precipice of such a victory several times, especially with a Republican Congress quite sympathetic to their "plight". However, the Republicans didn't have enough time to pass their version of the Higher Education Act renewal which would have included this language.

When that Congress was replaced by a Democrat one, the Senator of Education, Margret Spelling (pictured) and her Commission on the Future of Higher Education set about to rewrite the accrediting rules to include this provision. What was interesting about this committee that was appointed to rewrite the accrediting rules is the fact that it was overly weighted with representatives of the for-profit education industry while no members of the research and liberal universities who would most be affected by this clause were on the committee. It was as if the Department of Education was trying ensure the outcome by the selection of the persons on the rule making committee. Even with things weighted toward a "positive outcome, the vote to include the transfer of credit provision still failed. As "Inside Higher Education" reported, the person who voted against the provision was then "urged" to resign her seat on the rules committee. That would have resulted in the transfer of credit passage passing.

Well Congress watched Ms. Spelling's attempt to circumvent Congress's jurisdiction build in a series of rule making meetings on accreditation and sent several signals of its discontent, including, a letter from several members of Congress, a letter to Spelling from Lamar Alexander, a republican senator and former secretary of education, protestations from the states, finally in its proposed passage of the higher education act Congress has prohibited the Secretary of Education would prohibit the Education Department from changing federal regulations on colleges’ transfer of credit policies. In fact, Spellings conceded that Congress had trumped her and that her department would not issue new regulations.

For-profits have contributed much money toward getting this provision passed, alas, to no end and that would appear to be one of the reasons that Republicans and the Republican Secretary of Education has pursued this transfer of credit legislation and then rule change. The Department of Education is filled with refugees from for-profit education and the House Committee governing Education was headed by two republican representatives who took a great deal of contributions from for-profit education. Well, money can't buy you everything.

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