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Ending the Education “Cartel”

May 16, 2020

Classroom instruction is an artifact found in relationships. We can go back to Socrates for examples, but codification of classroom instruction in American higher education began in 1885. In that year, the first association of colleges was formed to confer “accreditation” on qualified colleges and universities  Arguably “accredited” institutions were better than non-accredited ones that did not live up to accreditation “Standards.”

An original “Standard” of accreditation in 1885 required that instruction occurred in classrooms. Of course, over the following one hundred and thirty-five years, new technologies were developed–radio, television, the Internet–that could be deployed for purposes of training.  Accreditation regulations that dominate the education industry did not permit instruction solely by the use of new technologies. A consequence was the building of physical campuses with classrooms, dining facilities, residential buildings and sport facilities.

We also saw the States regulate education to block attendance of African Americans from public schools and universities. After that practice was declared unconstitutional, state regulatory agencies used their powers to require “authorization” of programs offered for degree credit. But state regulations were subordinate to the growth of “Regional” accreditation which expanded from one association  through development of six geographic regions. Colleges and universities were governed by accreditation “agencies” recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to grant access to federal tuition loans and grants.

“Accreditation” came to mean “accredited” for access to federal subsidies, not standards of excellence.

This system has been challenged by a viral pandemic that has led to closure of all classroom instruction. Though colleges must move immediately to offer courses online, very few know how to do that. Those online courses will fail to enroll students willing to pay full tuition and a high percentage of those that do enroll will not complete coursework.

We are witnessing the implosion of the American system of higher education. Though we may be inclined to applaud that a day of reckoning has finally arrived that puts an end to an education “Cartel,” we know that we must act quickly to replace classroom instruction with effective distance learning. Only a few educators know how to do that.

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