Colonists protested Britain’s 18th-century policy of taxation without representation; Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is challenging 21st-century U.S. regulation without representation.
Florida is suing the federal government.
“Congress has ceded unchecked power to private accrediting agencies to dictate education standards to colleges and universities,” the Sunshine State’s lawsuit argues.
Congress has given accreditors “broad power to apply their own standards to colleges and universities, subject only to limited judicial review,” Florida’s attorney general further complains.
The New York Post further reported:
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday filed a lawsuit against President Biden’s Department of Education, accusing the administration of unlawfully interfering in the Sunshine State’s higher education accreditation process.
“I will not allow Joe Biden’s Department of Education to defund America’s No. 1 higher education system all because we refuse to bow to unaccountable accreditors who think they should run Florida’s public universities,” DeSantis said at a press conference in Tampa, Fla., where he announced the lawsuit.
Higher education institutions are required to be accredited by one of several private accrediting agencies to receive federal funds from the Department of Education.
In the complaint, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody writes that “Congress has ceded unchecked power to private accrediting agencies to dictate education standards to colleges and universities” and that the accrediting agencies have “broad power to apply their own standards to colleges and universities, subject only to limited judicial review.”
Moody argues that because federal law requires “reasonable cause” to change accreditors, it is unjustly burdening the state, which now requires colleges and universities to switch their accreditor every few years.
The AG claims that the Department of Education is targeting Florida’s new legislation, citing “guidance documents” issued to accreditors “seeking to deter new accreditors from working with Florida.”
The new state law also allows universities to sue accreditors for damages if they believe they had been negatively affected.
DeSantis and Moody on Thursday noted that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, or SACS, which oversees accrediting in the Sunshine State, “threatened the accreditation of Florida State University” in 2021 when Richard Corcoran, Florida’s then commissioner of education, was a candidate to be the next president of the school.
SACS argued that Corcoran’s candidacy posed a potential conflict of interest if he refused to step down from his role as education commissioner.
“For too long, private academic accreditors have been holding our colleges and universities hostage,” Moody said Thursday. “Thanks to the fearless leadership of Governor DeSantis, we are fighting to take back our public postsecondary education system from unelected private organizations that have no accountability or oversight.”
Earlier this year, DeSantis appointed six new members to the New College of Florida’s board of trustees – where Corcoran eventually landed as interim president – in an effort to move the institution in a more conservative ideological direction.
The governor and 2024 GOP presidential candidate also signed legislation last month that bans state and federal funding for diversity, equity and inclusion programs at state colleges and universities.
“Throughout my time in office, I have made it a priority to bring transparency and accountability to higher education and to reorient the mission of our colleges and universities away from purveying destructive ideologies and back toward the pursuit of truth and the preparation of our students for success,” DeSantis said Thursday. “The Biden administration’s attempts to block these reforms is an abuse of federal power, and with this lawsuit, we will ensure that Florida’s pursuit of educational excellence will continue.”