March 25, 2022

Julia Carpenter-Hubin, Ken Lee: Critical race theory bill takes foolish gamble with students’, schools’ futures |Opinion

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Ohio’s anti-critical race theory bill has passed the legislature and awaits the governor’s signature. But in this op-ed for the Columbus Dispatch, ywo educators argue it is bad, damaging policy.

Ohio lawmakers are jumping on a critical race theory political bandwagon. Although House Bill 327 no longer uses provocative wording about divisive concepts, this poorly disguised grenade under the tent of higher education can explode with unintended consequences.

The bill violates national standards for higher education by connecting learning to political whim. It poses a serious threat to the future of Ohio, for the proposed law will impair our student’s ability to get federal financial aid within our state.

As longtime advocates for excellence in Ohio higher education, we serve on the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Peer Corps. The HLC is one of seven accrediting organizations with the authority to determine whether colleges and universities in the United States are accredited, and HLC is the accreditor for higher education across the state of Ohio.

By law, the U.S. Department of Education relies on accrediting agencies such as HLC to determine an institution’s eligibility for U.S. government assistance. Students must attend an accredited college or university to apply for and to receive federal student grants or loans.

The HLC criteria for accreditation are clearly apolitical. “The governing board of the institution is autonomous to make decisions in the best interest of the institution … to ensure the institution’s integrity.” House Bill 327 violates the sensible HLC safeguard that, “The governing board preserves its independence from undue influence on the part of donors, elected officials, ownership interests or other external parties.”

If we foolishly sacrifice accreditation from HLC, is there any hope to earn it from another accreditor? Every single one of the seven regional accreditors maintain the time-tested balance between academic freedom and responsibility of each institution’s faculty. Every accreditor clearly defines and supports integrity, some with even stronger requirements than the HLC.

Read the full op-ed here.

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