Originally Posted: June 2000
According to the United States Department of Education, "The United States has no Federal ministry of education or other centralized authority exercising single national control over postsecondary educational institutions in this country. The states assume varying degrees of control over education, but, in general, institutions of higher education are permitted to operate with considerable independence and autonomy...In order to insure a basic level of quality, the practice of accreditation arose in the United States as a means of conducting nongovernmental, peer evaluation of educational institutions and programs."1
The Bible tells us to "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."2
Keeping this Scripture in mind, let's examine the above statement by the Department of Education and see if it proves good and true.
We already saw in this statement that the Department of Education claims that "accreditation arose in the United States as a means of conducting nongovernmental peer evaluation of educational institutions and programs." The Department of Education has divided the United States into regions. Each region in turn has a Regional Accreditor that accredits schools. These Regional Accreditors get their authorization from the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and/or the U.S. Department of Education's Eligibility and Agency Evaluation Staff (EAES). Now both of these organizations get their authority to "recognize" these accrediting agencies from the Department of Education itself. And as everyone knows, the Department of Education is a part of the United States government. So my question is this, if accreditation is "a means of conducting nongovernmental peer evaluation of educational institutions and programs," what is the Department of Education, a branch of the Federal Government, doing running the whole thing? This is obviously not nongovernment involvement in the accreditation system and proves that this part of the statement made by the Department of Education is not true.
Their statement also included the following: "The states assume varying degrees of control over education, but, in general, institutions of higher education are permitted to operate with considerable independence and autonomy." Each state has a Higher Education Coordinating Board, a Postsecondary Council on Higher Education, or some agency along those lines. Their purpose is to authorize a school to award the degrees that it does. If it is a religious school, then they may grant it "religious exemption" because of separation of Church and State. However, the term "religious exemption" does not mean that they will still not control the religious school to some degree. For example, they must first approve all of the degree titles and nomenclature (initials) of those degrees. In many states, they must also have copies of the school's catalog on file for evaluation, see a list of all course materials and make on site inspections of the school, even if it is solely conducting correspondence courses. There have been examples in the past, where a religious school is offering a degree and a few secular schools will start to offer a degree with the same title. Eventually the state that the school is in will tell it that it may no longer offer that degree or title, even though it was offering it before the secular schools. They will claim that this is to remove any confusion as to if it is a secular or religious degree. This clearly shows favoritism to the secular schools and those that are associated with the Department of Education.
Now many of these state agencies follow basic guidelines established by the Department of Education. So again we see the Federal Government getting involved and regulating schools, both secular and religious. Now the government claims that they want to have a total separation of Church and State, so if this is true, what business do they have telling a completely religious school what degrees and programs it may and may not offer? What business do they have telling a religious school how to format their catalog if everything they have said in it is completely truthful? So again, this fails the test to prove good and true.
Now as for the beginning of their statement, where they say, "The United States has no Federal ministry of education or other centralized authority exercising single national control over postsecondary educational institutions in this country," in a way that is true. The United States has no ministries. Instead the United States has departments. As we have clearly seen, the United States Department of Education is actually exercising authority over postsecondary education in one form or another, contrary to what their statement claims. So again this part of the statement fails to prove true.
The Department of Education, in their book, Nationally Recognized Accrediting Agencies and Associations: Criteria and Procedures for listing by the U.S. Secretary of Education and Current List (September 1996), on pages 9 through 11, have a list of the definitions they use and a meaning for these definitions. We will examine a few of these here:
"Accreditation means the status of public recognition that an accrediting agency grants to an educational institution or program that meets the agency's established standards and requirements."3
"Accrediting agency or agency means a legal entity, or that part of a legal entity, that conducts accrediting activities through voluntary, non-Federal peer evaluations and makes decisions concerning the accreditation or preaccreditation status of institutions, programs, or both."4
If these two definitions are true, then any legal accrediting organization is exactly the same as another one, and have no Federal Government involvement whatsoever. However, these definitions are misleading, as the following one clearly shows:
"Nationally recognized accrediting agency, nationally recognized agency, or recognized agency means an accrediting agency that is recognized by the Secretary under this part."5
What is meant by the term "recognized" here is that the accrediting organization is following the guidelines and regulations established by the Department of Education, which is a part of the Federal Government. Therefore, this clearly is not being "non-Federal" as the above description for the term "accrediting agency" refers to.
It is the Department of Education, as well as these "recognized" accrediting agencies and the schools that they accredit, that look upon other accrediting agencies as less favorable and as being beneath them. It is only those schools that are accredited by a "recognized" accreditor that are eligible for certain Federal funding and programs. This is clearly a violation of the first statement by the Department of Education that I quoted in the beginning.
In November of 2000, the Department of Education came out with an Agenda Report entitled, "Learning Without Limits." In this report they state that it "is a blueprint for the federal role in postsecondary education."6 So in light of this report, one question comes to mind, what happened to their wanting to keep the Federal Government out of postsecondary education?
To anyone who can understand even basic English, there is a definite contradiction between the words and actions of the Department of Education. We have already seen the mess that the Department of Education has made with the elementary and secondary schools, and now, with their expertise, they are trying to do the same thing to the postsecondary ones as well. Is this right? Of course not! It's time to get the government out of the education business and put it back where it belongs, back into the hands of the people.
By controlling the accrediting agencies, they control the schools. By controlling the schools they control the curriculum, who will teach it, and what is required by each individual attending that school. By controlling the curriculum and what is taught, they can control what a person learns and how they will react to certain situations. And as numerous examples in history show, by doing this, you will have people who will say, think, and do whatever you want. Surely this is not what education is meant to be.