Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Breaking Up the Higher Education Cartel? Another Tea Party Republican Idea you won't believe.

Can you imagine someone saying to you that they graduated from the MacIver Institute? As ridiculous as that may sound, Utah Sen. Mike Lee thinks he's onto something. How about a degree from the Heritage Foundation? Club for Growth? Wisconsin Right to Life? Dow Chemical and Boeing accredited courses? 

I came across Mike Lee's plan to break up the "higher education cartel" watching the following outrageous proposal from another crazy but calm Fox News pundit. A formula for absolute chaos:

Here's Lee's proposal to so overuse the act of accreditation that it will make the act meaningless. In his own words:
The Federalist: Under the federal Higher Education Act, students are eligible for Title IV student loans and grants only if they attend formally accredited institutions. That makes some sense, for purposes of quality control. Except that under the law, only degree-issuing academic institutions are allowed to be accredited. And only the U.S. Department of Education gets to say who can be an accreditor.

That is, the federal government today operates a kind of higher-education cartel, with federally approved accreditors using their gatekeeper power to keep out unwanted competition.

Yes, that's considered bad. Get ready for the ride of your life:
It seems to me the answer isn't more funding or lower rates for existing Title IV programs. The answer is to make more kinds of students and more kinds of education eligible for them. State-based accreditation would augment, not replace, the current regime. (College presidents can rest assured that if they like their regional accreditor, they can keep it.)

But the state-based alternatives would not be limited to accrediting formal, degree-issuing “colleges.” They could additionally accredit specialized programs, apprenticeships, professional certification classes, competency tests, and even individual courses.

Businesses, labor unions, trade associations, non-profit groups, and any other applicant that met the state’s requirements could be empowered to accredit. Apple or Google could accredit computer courses. Dow could accredit a chemistry program, and Boeing could craft its own aerospace engineering “major.” 

Meanwhile, talented teachers could side-step time-consuming and esoteric “publish or perish” research, and spend their careers in the classroom instead. Groups of professors could form new business models, like medical practices, and offer high-quality higher education for a fraction of the cost of four years at a traditional university. 

Faith communities and civic organizations could begin to offer accredited courses, for next to nothing, as part of their missions. 

My bill begins that process ... alternative providers would have to price-compete with their traditional and alternative competitors. disciplined pricing would mean students might need loans of hundreds of dollars, instead of tens of thousands. As the alternative market establishes student/customer-friendly standards for pricing, quality, and transparency, traditional colleges will face tough questions about rigor, transfer credits, and student success. 
Hundreds of dollars for our current college educators? Sen. Mike Lee is batshit crazy.


  1. Oh Bravo. Calling someone batshit crazy is a really well thought out logical argument.

  2. Great response. Lots of content/thought there. Oh, did you miss the story above?

  3. Allow me to introduce to you the Antpoppa School of Bartending. This beautiful campus is located at the base of my scenic cellar stairs.
    A full four year study on
    1.) The perfect Martini.
    2.) Half or full cube ice.
    3.) Full head beer pulling
    4.) No head beer pulling
    5.) And much more.
    Show me the money, and I’ll show you a GOOD TIME.
    Honestly, at the end of WWll the G.I. bill had to be changed to prevent this kind of nonsense.