Skip to comments.Christian College Says Accrediting Agency's Proposed Guideline Change May Harm Religious Schools
Posted on 09/09/2018 11:57:54 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
The president of a conservative Christian college in Colorado has voiced his concern about proposed changes to the Higher Learning Commission's standards for accreditation that he says could harm religious schools.
Donald Sweeting, president of the 8,000-student Colorado Christian University, spoke during a public hearing for the Negotiated Rulemaking Committee of the U.S. Department of Education on Thursday to comment on changes that could negatively impact religious freedom.
At issue is a draft proposal on the commission's criteria for accreditation that Sweeting said would essentially remove language requiring accrediting bodies to take an institution's "specific and diverse" mission into account when assessing an its commitment to diversity even in the cases of schools with a religious mission.
The Higher Learning Commission is the accrediting agency tasked with overseeing the accreditation of over 1,300 post-secondary schools in the central United States.
"Previously, the Higher Learning Commission clearly acknowledged that schools necessarily differ in their diversity policies and procedures. The original guidelines stated that each school should act 'as appropriate within its mission and for the constituencies it serves,'" Sweeting said during the hearing. "Now, this crucial provision is targeted for deletion."
According to the proposed changes issued in March, institutions' "processes and activities must ensure inclusive and equitable treatment of diverse populations." The new proposal, however, strikes out the part of the policy that states that the treatment of diverse populations may "reflect attention to human diversity as appropriate within its mission and for the constituencies it serves."
"By striking this language, certain institutions could face negative repercussions with regard to their accreditation simply for being true to their religious mission," Sweeting stressed.
Sweeting added that the new draft protocol would give the commission "the prerogative to decide whether a school sufficiently 'ensures inclusive and equitable treatment of diverse populations.'"
"By law, this agency can cut off federal student loans and grants at any 'noncompliant' school by withdrawing accreditation," Sweeting warned.
Sweeting asserted that the proposed changes would not only represent a powerful threat to religious liberty but would also go against the Higher Education Act, which guarantees respect for religious missions of schools.
"What would make these agencies believe that it is appropriate to tamper with the religious principles of Christian institutions that long ago proved their academic merit?" Sweeting asked. "The nature of HLC's proposed changes threatens not only religious institutions, but also the autonomy of all colleges and universities within its jurisdiction."
Sweeting called on the Department of Education to clarify what it means for accrediting agencies to respect religious mission.
"[T]here is no precise definition of religious mission or what it means to respect religious mission," Sweeting added. "This lack of definition leaves accrediting bodies open to reach a different understanding of what this means, interpreting it so narrowly that it threatens religious schools."
Sweetings comments come as there has been much concern among Christian colleges that they could face backlash for upholding policies that reflect the biblical definition of marriage being between only one man and one woman.
A final draft of the commission's proposal is scheduled to be released in February 2019. The final draft of the policy will be implemented in the fall of 2019.
The Christian Post reached out to the commission for comment on Sweeting's concerns. A response is pending.
Although the accreditation of Christian colleges in the U.S. have not yet been threatened over views on marriage, the same cannot be said for Trinity Western University in Canada.
Earlier this summer, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that law societies of British Columbia and Ontario have the right to refuse accreditation to Trinity Western University because of the school's community covenant on sexuality.
The court ruled that the law societies "significantly advanced the statutory objectives by ensuring equal access to and diversity in the legal profession and preventing the risk of significant harm to LGBT people."
The ruling ultimately led Trinity Western to drop its requirement that students sign the community covenant banning same-sex relationships.
Some in the U.S. have feared that the 2015 Supreme Court's decision to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide could lead to Christian colleges' tax-exempt status being threatened.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, re-introduced this year the First Amendment Defense Act. The act would ban federal agencies from taking actions against a person or entity on the basis that they act in "accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as a union of one man and one woman." The bill has not yet been taken up by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Education’s “Deep State” at work.
The language should make it clear that an aggrieved Christian should be able to sue not just the agency, but also its decision makers, both at the agency level and PERSONALLY
Yes, they should be PERSONALLY LIABLE for ANY attempts to restrict religious freedom of Christians
This is hogwash for an academic accreditation outfit.
It’s concerns must be “academic” and not social. It is within the Liberty of Americans to pursue academic betterment within a religious or other demographic category fitting with their personal aims. Those aims may not be ranked as possitive or negative by academic rating agencies.
So called “diversity” is a political agenda that is out of bounds to true Liberty, true academics and true diversity.
What BS. Suggest bright students stop wasting their money on this crap. Get a real job!!
What the left is doing is Orwellian, they want to shut out and shut up the faithful. It is evil and needs to be fought.
Sorta like the good people of Philly, or St. Louis, or anywhere else that the mayor and police departments allowed BLM t destroy property can be sued in the public interest, in the interest of safety, in the interest of their roles and positions are dependent on upholding the law, yes Class Action Lawsuits against those who fail to discharge their duty to uphold the law and put the rest of citizens in peril should swamp the legal systems.
I would think that would be rather the point.
Pretty simple solution: Have these private institutions get together for the purpose of forming their own accreditation standards that are much stricter than those of the US government.
Businesses know a higher standard when they see it, and as is the case with Home Schooled people, will tend to hire these graduates first and look for graduates of schools with the higher accreditation standard. The Government standard will become irrelevant.
Hard to argue the success of a place like Grove City College compared to the government funded institutions of “higher” learning.
I’d imagine the barriers to entry would be very high.
What does this have to do with ensuring the delivery of an academically sound education?
If you're speaking of college admissions, i agree, and certainly hope the barriers would be high.
After all, one would want an education for the outlandish sum of money they paid.
--my wife is a pharmacist. She started out her work career as a pharmacist with a $200,000+ student loan debt...that she paid off in six years.
One would certainly HOPE that her education dealt with PHARMACY, and not Title IX bovine scatology.
Having strict private standards...BTW, Underwriters Laboratories is an industry funded double blind organisation, and without that UL sticker, your product is in serious trouble...would make everyone sit up and take notice.
The same type of "industry standard" applied to private higher education would put an end to a lot of nonsense.
No, barrier to entry to the accreditation business.
Accreditation associations must be recognized by the federal government for 1) their accreditation to have any meaning with schools that seek accreditation, 2) for schools accredited by the accrediting body to be eligible to receive funds from the government in terms of Pell grants, student loan proceeds, GI Bill benefits, or, in some cases, tuition paid from reimbursement money given to students from the students’ employers, and other sources.
There are six regional accreditation associations, controlled by member schools, and that act as a cartel. They work hand-in-hand with the federal government to keep out the competition.
There are a number of national accreditation associations. Folks can start their own national associations, unlike with regionals associations. The nationals are considered to have “lower” than the regional associations. Using that as an excuse, schools with regional accreditation often don’t accept credits earned at institutions that nationally accredited. Who determines that the nationals have “lower” standards? The regionals.
To create an accreditation association that will provide its accredited institutions with an accreditation that will generally be accepted as a real seal of quality, an accreditation association would need to overcome the non-economic barriers to entry posed by the six regional accreditors, and, to overcome the issues of “lower” quality, would have to largely emulate the standards of the regionals.
Much of the cost of running a college or university comes from meeting standards that are very costly, even if they don’t have much to do with quality. And much of the cost of developing and running an accreditation body with comparable “standards” to the existing regionals is wrapped up in enforcing the standards on colleges and universities required to emulate the regionals.
So no more black colleges?
This is nothing new. Read God and Man at Yale by Bill Buckley.
In Economics 101 at Wheaton College, we had a test with short essay questions. For one question I said Keynes would say A, the Austrians would say B, Milton Friedman would say C.
The prof gave me an F for the entire test due to that one answer and wrote in the margin that Milton Friedman was not a legitimate economist. (This was before he won the Nobel Prize.)
I complained to the head of the department, who was also the advisor to Young Republicans, but not a Goldwater fan and he knew I was YFG chair at Wheaton. Dr Kamms explained to me that he agreed with me but could do nothing.
The Accreditation boards wanted to pull Wheaton’s accredidation because Wheaton taught Intelligent Design. Wheaton negotiated a compromise. Wheaton would be allowed to continue to teach Intelligent Design. In exchange, Wheaton would hire professors in the social sciences that taught progressive thought.
The Department Chair could do nothing.
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