Phi Beta Cons

Reforming higher education — without the government.

A. Lee Fritschler penned an interesting article in the last issue of The Chronicle Review, rejecting federal regulation of the accrediting agencies that monitor higher education institutions.
Instead of having the Department of Education determining which colleges receive accreditation, Fritschler favors the status quo, which leaves the process relatively unregulated. But instead of invoking the federal government to come be the savior of higher education, the article instead favors avoiding the bureaucracy and intrusion such a measure would mean. Fritschler writes:

If we are serious about improving the quality of teaching and learning, we should support research to determine what works best in the classroom, and create incentives for institutions to reward good teaching rather than just good research. Maybe we need a new nongovernmental organization charged with improving college teaching and learning, with adequate resources to do the job. That approach could be more effective and less costly than the enforcement of the intrusive and bureaucratic national standards being proposed by the Department of Education. In exchange, we should hold institutional officials accountable for explaining what they are doing to improve the quality of their enterprise.

All too often, policy wonks and technocrats overlook the power that market forces can have in improving institutions and making them more efficient. Higher education is no different; government doesn’t have to be the solution.