Florida Lawmakers Taking on Accreditors and Faculty

Ry Rivers | Contributor, April 11, 2013, Inside Higher Ed

Florida lawmakers advanced a bill this week intended to upend the American college accreditation system.

The measure would allow Florida officials to accredit individual courses on their own — including classes offered by unaccredited for-profit providers.

“We’re saying the monopoly of the accrediting system is not designed for the world of MOOCs or other individual courses,” said Republican State Senator Jeff Brandes, the bill’s sponsor. MOOCs are massive open online courses, the generally free online classes offered by a handful of groups, including some of the most elite universities in the world and for-profit companies.

The Florida plan is similar to a high-profile California bill. Both would force public colleges and universities under some circumstances to award credit for work done by students in online programs unaffiliated with their colleges.

With less than a month left in the Florida legislative session, the bill’s fate is unclear. But its critics and supporters both take the effort seriously even though the bill has remained below the radar nationally compared to the California plan, even within higher education circles in Florida.

Tom Auxter, the president of the 7,000-member United Faculty of Florida, was on his way to Tallahassee on Wednesday to lobby against the bill, which is known as the Florida Accredited Courses and Tests Initiative, or FACTs.

“What we’re trying to do is mobilize faculty to contact their legislators to say just how bad this is,” Auxter said.

The bill is part of a national effort to use technology to change higher ed.


Read more on the Inside Higher Ed website.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily the positions of UFF-UF.