Colleges overregulated? You’re joking!



A recent report by the American Council on Education (a university lobbying group) may set a record for the most hypocritical document of 2015. The report’s hysterical findings are that universities are overregulated, and that regulation needs to be cut back.

I’ve discussed an earlier torrent of tears from a Poo-Bah who cried similarly. It was easy to qualitatively show the gargantuan intellectual dishonesty in the Poo-Bah’s arguments, and a look at the institutional tax forms showed quantitatively that, well, he used a sparing hand with the facts.

As I’ve said many times, simply looking at one Poo-Bah, one school, isn’t enough to understand what higher education is today, and the Council’s report (written by 16 Poo-Bahs) shows once again that the systemic corruption and incompetence I’ve shown at many individual institutions applies, in fact, to most institutions of higher education.

So, let’s look at some highlights of this report:

It found that federal regulations on institutions that share $160 billion in federal money for financial aid are “unnecessarily voluminous and too often ambiguous” and that the cost of complying with them is “unreasonable.”

–keep that in mind: these guys get $160 BILLION dollars, and are complaining about the regulation of that money.

Before going further, let me first discuss how much legitimate regulation and oversight I, personally, have undergone in the last 15 years (I could go further back, but I want to stick with this millennium, where my memory is clearer).

Here goes:

0 Hours.

Ok, I qualified that with “legitimately”, but the 12 hours or so of oversight I’ve had really hasn’t been legitimate. Yes, some dozen times over the last decade, an administrator (with no education or credentials relevant to my subject) has come to my class and watched me for an hour, giving me plenty of advanced notice that she was coming. Afterwards, I get the requisite advice to have more group work, go slower, eliminate material students didn’t already know, and other silliness.

Then admin gets a copy of my syllabus, and writes down what book I’m using for the course. I follow the syllabus and use the book, but the gentle reader needs to understand that many colleges are completely unhinged from education, because this is all the “oversight” most schools have.

Faculty with Ph.D. in Math Education: “[Professor Doom], I need your help. I’m trying to show that i = -1.
Me: “You mean to say that you think i, the imaginary number, is the same is -1?”
Faculty: “Yes. You took math classes, so I figure you might know a trick that can help?”
Me: “Sorry, can’t help. Usually it’s represented as ‘the square root of -1’, but you can’t put it on a real number line anywhere.”
Faculty: “Yeah, I know. I tell my students that i is basically the same as -1, but I can’t seem to show it.”
Me: “That’s because it isn’t, sorry.”

–Honest, using Education degree holders to teach actual subjects is not a good idea. But at the school where this took place, there’s no way to do anything about a teacher that is flat out teaching wrong information. Since almost nobody graduates from that school or moves on, I guess the harm done isn’t so bad?

But that’s the entirety of oversight to see if I’m doing a legitimate job. When I covered other faculty’s courses at a questionable community college, time and again I was stunned at how little was going on, and when I stood near the door of other classes in progress, and reviewed the tests/material in other courses, it was easy for me to see how much of the coursework was not legitimate (and sometimes, the instructors were giving the students flat out wrong information!).

What of all that regulation the Poo-Bahs are crying about? There is absolutely no regulation whatsoever, at least at the federal or state level, that in even the slightest way, helps to assure legitimate education is going on in the classrooms of higher education. I’ve shown this already.

Since there is no regulation in that regard, what, pray tell, is the regulation the Poo-Bahs are crying about?

This includes some of the information universities are required to disclose to consumers, which the task force said can be “of marginal value or very limited interest” or confusing and unhelpful.

“In addition to sometimes receiving too much information, consumers are also often given information that is not very accurate or meaningful,” the report said.
It cited the federal definition of the graduation rate, which takes into account only full-time freshmen who start and finish at the same institutions, even though increasing numbers of students transfer and finish somewhere else.

–“consumers” are what admin is calling students. Funny, they force us to refer to them as “learners”, but the hypocrites don’t even think that much of the little suckers consumers.

Wait, what? Poo-Bahs don’t like telling incoming customers/students about graduation rates? I don’t blame them: graduation rates are miserable.

Many community colleges have a graduation rate below 10%, and even industry leader University of Phoenix only boasts a 9% graduation rate. Why shouldn’t students be told that the chances of them getting something for their student loans that would help them pay off the loans are minimal at best?

Crying about the definition of “graduation” is silly—these Poo-Bahs know full well that only about 12 credit hours transfers, at best, between one school and the next, so students that are transferring around from one school to the next repeatedly really shouldn’t count for graduating until they actually graduate. Our administrators in higher education know what’s going on, and have set up the system to be this way. It’s why 80% of community college students are victims, after all.

Instead of crying about the definition for graduation rate, the Poo-Bahs could suggest better definitions. These guys have Ph.D.s, after all, research degrees that supposedly indicate they’re capable of thinking creatively. For example, how about “Graduation rate is the percentage of students that start here and graduate at an accredited institution, somewhere, within 6 years”? Six years, after all, is the average amount of time it takes for students to get their “4 year” degrees now. That’s just looking at the graduates, of course—most entering students don’t get degrees, ever…and again, administration knows this. Every institution is only too happy to brag about graduates, it’s simple enough to keep six years of records (I mean, every US citizen has to keep 7 years or more of tax records, why are Poo-Bahs unhappy at requirements that are less than for most people?).

Why are our institutions so devoid of integrity that we would need regulation to get them to tell our kids that “4 year degrees” take 6 years? Why not just be honest in the first place? Why are Poo-Bahs unhappy at the prospect of giving honest information?

The Poo-Bahs, after all, are very complicit in helping those students transfer around, since that way the Poo-Bahs can plunder even more Federal loot in the Pell Grant scam (and, hey, why isn’t there enough regulation to keep track of the NAME of students receiving $5,000 of free Pell money? Again, a system of integrity would have long since had this level of record-keeping to cut down fraud, instead of encouraging it).

It’s so laughable to complain about lack of regulation. Most courses have no requirements BECAUSE there is no regulation. The majority of “college” coursework is just rehash of the same material that is already available in the public schools. Heck, much of it is below the 9th grade level, despite this being in violation of Federal law. Honest, it’s hard to complain about regulation when most community colleges operate in open violation of the law.

A spokeswoman for Senate Committee on Health, Labor, Education, and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander, did not immediately respond when asked whether it was a conflict of interest for an industry to write a congressional report urging the elimination of regulations on itself.

Conflict of interest? But, the Poo-Bahs that control our institutions of higher education also control accreditation (the supposed “regulator” of higher education, and riddled with conflicts of interest). These guys are so used to investigating themselves and clearing themselves of wrongdoing that they’re incapable of realizing conflicts of interest anymore. I mean, when the Federal government is helping to point out conflicts of interest, you’re know the advice is coming from an expert.

Just one more for now from a summary, mining the full report for additional laughs is just too easy:

The precise cost of regulations on higher education is “difficult and time consuming” to determine, the report said. But it cited a 1997 study at Stanford that found regulation cost 7.5 cents of every tuition dollar on following government rules.
–to clarify: $160 billion (from above) goes to the institutions, but they hate that they have to spend well under $16 billion making the Federal government think they’re doing a legitimate job.

Let’s take this at face value. Heck, let’s move it to 10 cents of every tuition dollar is spent on following government rules. Sounds like a lot right? I’m no fan of government regulations, and I fully admit all (or nearly all) of them are a waste of time and effort. But let’s put that in perspective:

At most institutions, the bulk of their revenue comes from the Federal government in one form or another. Tuition has been rising 5% or more a year, year after year after year. So, for TWO of those years, tuition increases were needed to pay for all the regulations. Past that point? All the free money coming from the government may as well have no strings attached at all. So why all the other tuition increases?

Seriously, if you had one major customer, one who was responsible for the vast majority of your HIGHLY PROFITABLE business, a customer that, if you lost him, would put you out of business within a year, would you be upset at giving that customer a 10% discount, or spending 10% of what he gives you to make him happy? Gee whiz, I’m just one guy, and most stores will give me a 10% discount if I buy twice as much as the usual customer.

As a final demonstration of the immense intellectual dishonesty here, let’s suppose the Poo-Bahs are correct that the government regulations are the problem with the expense of higher education today. All those government regulations are coming from all the government money the institutions receive.

Any Poo-Bah that honestly feels the regulations are too much can just stop taking government money. Seeing as there isn’t a single Poo-Bah from an accredited institution in the United States stepping up and saying “We’re not taking any more Federal dollars because the regulation is just too much trouble”, it’s clear that no Poo-Bah honestly believes the regulations are too much trouble for the money involved…and yet they all cry in unison about the regulations.