Secretary Betsy DeVos is preparing to reveal some of the anticipated changes in the regulatory rules. Rather the rules be accepted or not we all know that there has been no even playing ground for colleges, universities, junior colleges, private colleges and nonprofit. It also relates back to many schools and colleges who have felt their accreditation practiced over regulation enforced by the federal government. Elementary and Secondary schools have not received as much oversite until recently. States were given the prerogative to oversee the elementary and secondary programs. The federal government over the past has been true to this philosophy with elementary and secondary schools. Ninety-two percent of the funds come from non-federal sources. The eight percent comes from federal programs like “Head Start”, Department of Education, Health and Human Services and Department of Agriculture. After World War II the federal government began to influence higher education with additional funding that put eight million war veterans through college. These societal events continued to shape the federal governments hand hold on post secondary schools with the cold war, civil rights, rehabilitation act of 1972, and The Department of Education was established in 1980.
The department’s “Mission” is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access. This is truly a nobel idea. Through the purse strings where states and public schools have accepted more and more funding the regulations were established to govern the schools from the federal level. In addition to the regulations they were not uniformly instituted for all schools. Some the inconsistencies are:
- Transfer of credit is entirely up to the receiving institution. (Even when a student has received federal financial aid for their earned credits they may not be accepted by a receiving institution, which requires the student to apply for more financial aid to take the courses over again in another school) There is no guarantee of transfer of credit for schools who receive federal financial assistance.
- Some post secondary schools are required to report and meet standards of graduation rates, employment placement rates, student success rates and student retention.
- Some schools are required to maintain respectable student loan default rates.
- Recognized and approved accreditation organizations by the Department of Education have been scoffed at by some U.S. Senators and they have refused to recognize these established accreditation organizations. Some of these senators even go as far as to say students attending these schools are not in an accredited school.
- Depending on student enrollment and the income to the students may present some discrimination for the school who relies on federal financial aid because of a student body that relies heavily on the government’s program. These schools use a high proportion of the federal financial aid and often get singled out as misusing funds but when you look at demographics these schools are often doing their communities a great service by reaching the mission of the United States Department of Education.
These issues and more presents an uneven playing ground. To re-engineer the U.S. Department of Education is no easy task. These specific challenges have grown to be more grotesque over the years. It is actually a time where we must reflect on what works and doesn’t and where the inequalities in governance exist without bias and political fortunes.
Please read the following article to get a sense of the changes being considered. Read it with an open mind and see if these actions may cause for better equity of education opportunity for students completing an educational program. Will freedom of choice by the students to attend the school they desire will be protected?