Obama Administration Burdens Private Colleges with Intrusive Regulations

Winning back one house of Congress will be nice, but lovers of liberty and limited government will have to wait longer to undo some of the damage done by executive order. One of the latest cases in point: Obama’s Department of Education asserting federal government power into the private higher education accreditation process, providing a threat to academic freedom.

Cal Thomas, one of my favorite syndicated columnists, brought attention to the story in his Wednesday piece — with a special focus on Colorado:

Former U.S. Sen. Bill Armstrong, now president of Colorado Christian University, wrote a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan on July 30. In it, he warned of an “all-out politicization of American higher education, endangering academic freedom, due process and First Amendment rights.”

The American Council on Education, in a letter of its own, warned of “heavy compliance burdens” and “regulations that appear to overrule state law.”

Armstrong says the attempt by the government to regulate curricula “is part of an unprecedented power grab in which government has already moved to dominate such industries as automobiles, energy, health care, banking, home loans and student loans — and now seeks dominance over the colleges and universities themselves.”

As Thomas goes on to explain, Colorado’s two Republican Congressman — Mike Coffman and Doug Lamborn — also have written to Duncan’s Department expressing their concerns about the rule change.

In a new paper for the Centennial Institute (PDF), my friend and colleague Krista Kafer provides the detail about the feds’ “intrusive proposal” and recommends repeal in the name of protecting America’s private colleges and universities from unneeded and unwanted political oversight.

At the same time, I see the wisdom my alma mater Hillsdale College pursued decades ago in eschewing all forms of federal funding (including student aid) to preserve independence. If the Obama administration’s current course is left undone, other institutions might be compelled to face similar tough decisions.

All I can say is: What’s next? And November 2012 can’t arrive soon enough.

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