Ivory Tower Power Grab

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

In what looks like a naked power grab, the Obama Administration is poised to extend its dominion over a higher education establishment that already tilts left. “The Education Department is set to mandate more government control over a private-sector accreditation process that has served higher education well,” Krista Kafer of the Centennial Institute writes. “To what purpose?”

“The new regulations offer little benefit to these institutions, their students, or the taxpayers. Abuses by a few unethical, for-profit colleges do not justify a power grab against 6,000 nonprofit schools.”

“If states politicize their authorization process, colleges may face the choice of compromising their mission or closing their doors.” It should be noted, against this backdrop, that state legislatures already tilt one way politically.

“In just the past three cycles, Democrats have gained a net of 374 state house seats and 68 state senate seats nationwide, moving them from slight minority status following the 2002 cycle—49.8 percent of two-party share of house seats and 49.9 percent of senate seats; the first time Republicans had such an advantage since before the New Deal—to reasonably comfortable majority status in just six years,” Tom Schaller

wrote on August 11, 2009 on fivethirtyeight.com. “Democrats now control 56.8 percent of state house seats and 53.4 percent of state senate seats.”

Meanwhile, the Center for Responsive Politics shows that university donations to Democrats swamp those made to Republicans by lopsided margins. As it turns out, the for-profits may have looked like an easy target but might actually be doing a better job than the non-profits.

“There has been criticism recently of for-profit institutions getting a disproportionate amount of government support,” former Democratic strategist and economist Robert Shapiro told The Daily Caller. “But it’s clear that on a nationwide level for-profit four-year institutions receive one-third as much government support as private four-year non-profits, and only 15% of the support given to four-year public universities.”

In a study for the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, economists Daniel L. Bennett, Adam R. Lucchesi and Richard K. Vedder go even further. “In an era when many public and private nonprofit universities have struggled financially, for-profit institutions of higher learning have, for the most part, been financially successful,” they point out. “Further, this financial success has come in the absence of direct government appropriations to for-profit institutions, something on which traditional colleges and universities are heavily reliant.”

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org