Phi Beta Cons

War Breaks Out in California (Over Accreditation)

Accreditation of colleges and universities is almost, with a bow to the Bard, Much Ado About Nothing. Just because a school manages to become accredited, that is no guarantee that students will learn anything. Accreditation just tells us that the institution has done the formal things necessary to look like a real college. Its curriculum can be laughable and its standards abysmal and still remain accredited, since academic results don’t count.

The only reason why it isn’t absolutely much ado about nothing is that the federal government links accredited status to eligibility for the student aid money it makes so easily available. Therefore, losing accreditation means losing much of your revenue stream — at least for a large percentage of our colleges and universities.

In today’s Pope Center article, David Randall of the National Association of Scholars writes about an intriguing battle that has broken out over this in California. The disputants are the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) and the City College of San Francisco (CCSF).  A few years ago, the two got into a tiff when ACCJC told CCSF that it wasn’t up to snuff in some ways, such as not doing enough to ensure certain “learning outcomes” and not having enough administrators.

CCSF apparently tried to placate the officious folks at ACCJC but their efforts weren’t good enough, so the latter moved to revoke the former’s accreditation.

But instead of crawling back and pleading for more time to comply, CCSF has flexed its political muscle by prevailing upon the feds to revoke the accrediting authority of ACCJC.

Pow! Bam! Smash!

It’s rather amusing. Randall concludes, “All of this may seem a tempest in a teapot, but it sheds light on an accreditation system that does not instill confidence.”  To say the least!

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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