Sunday, September 09, 2007

Evaluating Accreditation: An Important Event

By Richard Vedder

The gatekeepers to higher education are the accreditators. They play an important role. If you believe some, they insure quality control, and keep the bad guys and gals (e.g., diploma mills) from being a major force. They have helped develop and maintain the best system of higher education in the world. If you believe others, the accreditators are disguised cartels who thwart competition and innovation, keep prices high, and have failed to push for outcomes based measurement of higher education. Accreditation is part of the problem, not the solution.

Who is right? Should the system be changed? We at CCAP are keenly interested in these questions, and, working through our friends at the American Enterprise Institute (where I am a Visiting Scholar), we (AEI) are putting on a conference on Friday, September 21 at AEI, 1150 17th Street N.W., in Washington. The conference is from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Important players regarding this issue will be in attendance, beginning with the Under Secretary of Education, Sara Martinez Tucker and ending with the Chair of the Spellings Commission, Charles Miller. In between, we have a number of lively and informative speakers, including Anne Neal of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, Judith Eaton of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), Art Rothkopf, former president of Lafayette College, Spellings Commission member and now top executive at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Bill Henderson of the University of Indiana Law School, Jeff Sandefer, founder of the truly remarkable Acton Business School and Texas entrepreneur, and the formidable Candace de Russy, formerly of the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York and fellow blogger (Phi Beta Cons, mainly). I will more or less preside over the proceedings, and good times and lively discussion should ensue.

In DC and want to attend? Just call AEI at 202 862 5800 and make a reservation. We will even provide you a free lunch. Reservations to date are robust in number, so if you are planning on coming, register now. For still further information, call my sidekick at CCAP Bryan O'Keefe at 202-375-7831.

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