by A.L. Schuhart

The explosive spread of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DEI) in American education can be traced in large part to the changes made to the Principles of Accreditation for Colleges and Universities and Schools during the Obama Administration. These changes have reoriented the mission of American colleges from individual learning to social change and indoctrination.

American colleges and schools are “accredited” by supposedly independent regional bodies that monitor and regulate standards of education. These entities once were apolitical, but this is no longer the case. Ideally, their memberships (appointed by state governors) should reflect the diversity of competing political views in our Democracy and, in doing so, prevents the education system from being controlled by any one ideological group. That check no longer exists.

Virginia Colleges are accredited by SACSCOC (the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges). Let’s look at some key language changes between the “SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation” from ante-Obama (2012) and post-Obama (2018) versions of the documents.
Setting aside the clear difference in intellectual rigor between the documents, the crucial changes focus on one central question: who controls academic content and standards in American colleges? (The bolding is mine)

Principles of Accreditation (2012):

3.2.9: The institution publishes policies regarding appointment, employment, and evaluation of all personnel.
3.4.1: The institution demonstrates that each educational program for which academic credit is awarded is approved by the faculty and the administration.
3.4.10: The institution places primary responsibility for the content, quality, and effectiveness of the curriculum with its faculty.
3.4.11: For each major in a degree program, the institution assigns responsibility for program coordination, as well as for curriculum development and review, to those persons academically qualified in the field.

Principles of Accreditation (2018):

6.2.c: For each of its education programs, the institution … assigns appropriate responsibility for program coordination.
10.4: The institution (a) publishes and implements policies on the authority of faculty in academic and governance matters, (b) demonstrates that educational programs for which academic credit is awarded are approved consistent with institutional policy, and (c) places primary responsibility for the content, quality, and effectiveness of the curriculum with its faculty.

In 2012, faculty and administration are equal; together they compose the “institution.” In 2018, they are not, administration is the institution. The equality between the parts has been deleted and faculty no longer “develop and review” curriculum.

These changes show the subtle, yet very real, subordination of control of academics to the “institution” and “policy.” Further, in the newer version, the institution also decides the “authority” of the faculty in academic matters. Since faculty of the VCCS also do not have tenure, and the “institution” determines “appropriate” program control, independent faculty control of academics has been steadily erased, until today it no longer exists in the Virginia Community College System. Faculty now merely implement the design required of them by the State which is driven by political forces. By this means, the once independent VCCS has been corrupted to political service.

Look at NOVA, my college, and the real effects of these changes. The Virginia Governor and State Legislature have determined that “its” policy is to teach DEI, and Faculty now must implement that policy. DEI is being inserted into every academic program requirement and description, it is being imposed upon course descriptions and content requirements, and it is forcibly altering individual pedagogy. Faculty responsibility has been reduced to determining the best way to implement it, but the decisions about what exactly constitutes appropriate content and skills have been taken over by the “institution.” Because the VCCS is one system, that institution is effectively, “the State.”

This outcome is made more obvious by the following additional change to the Principles:

Principles of Accreditation (2012):

3.2.4: The governing board is free from undue influence from political, religious, or other external bodies and protects the institution from such influence.

Principles of Accreditation (2018):

4.2.f: The governing board … protects the institution from undue influence by external persons or bodies.

In 2012, the standard limits political influence on the board members. In 2018, the board is empowered to decide what constitutes “appropriate” influence. That reverses the flow of power completely.

And that is how we got to state control of education for political purposes.

What is to be done?

This same kangaroo mechanism of usurpation is being replicated across the country in the various regional accrediting bodies, and all coordinated and supported with various ideologically aligned Education NGO’s, professional associations, and the collusion of once independent structures of education leadership like SACSCOC. To begin to reclaim an independent education system that will serve all Virginian’s equally, and not merely indoctrinate and lie to them as is being done now, the next Governor should do a few things:

  1. Lead a return to a Virginia education system that is independent of the political system, regardless of the party in charge. Education should not be politicized.
  2. Understand, promulgate, and teach the real differences between a national-democratic design of education and a national-socialist one. Show Virginians how the original democratic design of Virginia education has been deliberately subverted by forces from outside of the state.
  3. Select a Secretary of Education who believes in democratic education and the Spiral Curriculum. Appoint knowledgeable independent and conservative educators and leaders to SACSCOC (and other education bodies). Re-establish a democratic competition of ideas that serves student learning rather than political or social outcomes.
  4. To re-establish the independence of the VCCS from political influence, give all senior VCCS faculty tenure immediately (as the original design of the system intended). If VCCS faculty were tenured, they would be protected in the exercise of professional duties, and many more faculty would come out openly against the usurpation of our institution and curriculum and teaching by political forces. My recent “Letter of Dissent” demonstrates the consequences to independent education when faculty are not protected from political interference. I do not have tenure, and my five-year contract is up, and I refuse to cooperate. Therefore, I am “insubordinate,” a charge sufficient to terminate my employment. Every faculty feels this fear, and the usurpers use that fear to get their way.
  5. Call for an investigation of SASCOC and other regional accrediting bodies and the changes made to the principles that destroy faculty independence from administrative coercion and political interference. Poke around: I believe a careful review of the changes to these documents will show that SACSCOC did not follow appropriate procedures in that revision process under the Obama administration, and that they can be tossed out. Virginia should lead a return to the 2012 Principles of Accreditation.

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27 responses to “How We Got Here…”

  1. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Wow! Imagine teaching about the never-happened history of slavery and white supremacy in the good ol’ USofA! Fake history!

    BTW, it’s not Critical Race Theory, and Critical Race Theory, while containing both words, theory and critical, has nothing to do with Critical Theory.

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      From Wiki:

      “Critical theory is an approach to social philosophy that focuses on reflective assessment and critique of society and culture in order to reveal and challenge power structures.”

      “Max Horkheimer first defined critical theory in his 1937 essay “Traditional and Critical Theory”, as a social theory oriented toward critiquing and changing society as a whole, in contrast to traditional theory oriented only toward understanding or explaining it. Wanting to distinguish critical theory as a radical, emancipatory form of Marxist philosophy, Horkheimer critiqued both the model of science put forward by logical positivism, and what he and his colleagues saw as the covert positivism and authoritarianism of orthodox Marxism and Communism. He described a theory as critical insofar as it seeks “to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them.”

      And you find Critical Race Theory to have nothing to do with Critical theory?

      You may be the only man drawing breath who finds no connection.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        As defined by those who developed CRT, yes. We keep doing this song and dance Captain. One of us should learn the steps.

        I assume TJ built a university that eventually developed a curriculum that included reading for understanding? But, I suppose it might not have been available in the 60s.

        1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
          James C. Sherlock

          You point to an American Bar Association article counseling civil rights lawyers how to define CRT in court so as to soften the edges to make it unrecognizable to judges and juries. And you want to go with that. I don’t blame you.

          1. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            However you define it, it is what it is, developed for evaluating a legal system, and it ain’t what it ain’t and that is being taught in K12.

            There are 4 balls being juggled here. At our age, just two is tough, but let’s look at them.
            1) Critical Theory. You have that. The broad spectrum of CT is political and economic, and includes Marxism.
            2) CRT a method of evaluating a legal system for effects on two (or more) groups for an oppression relationship and effects.
            3) K12 American History curriculum including a more detailed description of race, e.g., slavery, Jim Crow, etc. Don’t even try to say that you learned about Jim Crow when you were in HS because it was still in effect at the time.
            And, an this is the cool one…
            4) The John Birch Society approach to coloring the Civil Rights movement and the “Negro” as a target of Soviet Communism.

            You are the victim of a White Supremist mashup of all four. You’ve been had by THIS GUY:

          2. LarrytheG Avatar

            well… WILLINGLY HAD…

          3. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Willful ignorance.

          4. James C. Sherlock Avatar
            James C. Sherlock

            A victim and did not even know it. Do I get any free stuff? Exempted from jury duty? A fundraiser? My picture on a milk carton?

          5. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            As usual.

            You swallowed the red bait, Captain, and they set the hook. You are wicked tuna now.

    2. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Whatever it is, my concern about it diminishes at the college level, although it would be horrible scholarship or teaching to use only that lens in class. That is the intent of some, I’m sure. To repeat my conclusion from reading Kendi’s book, this is just reverse discrimination in a new wine skin. What this fellow seems to really want is tenure for VCCS faculty, a whole different issue.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Reverse discrimination, or affirmative action? And, no, they’re not the same.

        Well, ain’t read Kendi, but the flat out lies and misrepresentations — easily proved wrong — in Bader’s rant about Kendi tells me it’s doubtful he’ll get a fair shake anyway.

        This article is just an anger rant at DE&I guidance in accreditation. Disgruntled employee? Probably.

        BTW, any chance this is a renewal of contract issue? So much anger.

  2. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    If the membership of the accrediting agencies is appointed by governors, please explain how Obama being the president changed the direction of the of southern accrediting agency. By the way, being appointed by governors always meant those agencies were susceptible to political pressure.

    I think Steve has hit upon the nub of this argument. Because faculty at community colleges have never had tenure, I doubt if faculty have ever been able to determine the “policy” of an institution.

    Speaking of tenure, that is why a lot of faculty at four-year schools don’t have to adhere to CRT and DEI if they don’t won’t to. That is unlike the situation at institutions such as Liberty and Regency at which all faculty have to attend chapel services and profess allegiance to certain religious principles.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Here’s the link…

      Had a bunch of them sit in on one of my classes during a review of the school’s accreditation. Surprise!

  3. dsmithuva75 Avatar

    My name is Donald T. Smith, and I taught history in various colleges – initially in suburban Philadelphia, then Northern Virginia – as an adjunct for 23 years. I got the chance to teach at NVCC (Annandale & Alexandria) in 2005 and continued to do so until I became politically incorrect in 2016 when they no longer offered me classes.

    Teaching was my calling. For more than ten years, I usually taught seven classes a semester for two or three different institutions, working 60-100 hours a week (I gave essay exams…). The initial experience teaching at NVCC was so far superior to PA that I commuted 300 miles twice a week for four years from suburban PA so I could teach four classes in two days at NVCC. The NVCC students were far more devoted and conscientious, a wonderfully eclectic mix (40-60% foreign born), and the faculty respected my work, promoting me to Adjunct Associate Professor in 2013.

    But, by the mid-2010s, all that changed, as did the student mix. I had achieved the honor of being the second most-rated NVCC history professor (out of 213) on because I engaged my students, made the material relevant, and learned each and every last name. But, in the mid-2010s, there began to arise one or two students in some classes who did not like my engaging, respectful teaching style and my expectation that they demonstrate mastery of the material. Those vocal students went to a faculty and administration that was no longer supportive.

    My story is sad, not because I was denied the ability to pursue my calling, but because the students of NVCC no longer had access to a professor who presents history in a relevant manner from a non-Leftist perspective in a classroom that respected lively discussion….

    (As far as I know, I am not related to the Donald Smith who regularly writes wonderful pieces for Bacon’s Rebellion.)

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      You may find a kindred soul here by the name of James Whitehead , a retired history teacher but he’s now got a day job and usually logs in – in the evening…

    2. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Wow! A real Roads Scholar.

      1. Well done, sir!

        1. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          Wish I could take credit, but alas, it was used to describe a growing problem in college faculties in a newspaper article years ago.

          The irony of the position of these two fellows is the origin of their problem — Democrat (Dixiecrat) Lewis Powell and his 1971 memorandum which formed the basis of a Right wing push against the liberal social science faculties resulting in dwindling tenure tracks.

          Many on the Right have railed against tenure because it was seen to allow leftist faculty to remain in place. But tenure does two things. It does allow faculty to take outlandish positions at times (this could be left or right), AND it gives faculty the power to stand in opposition to the administration.

          As tenured faculty retired, administrators filled the positions with contract positions and eventually with adjuncts. The faculty have no teeth, and the term “Roads Scholar” refers to adjunct faculty sometimes teaching at multiple schools to get a decent living.

          My eyes are shot. Maybe one of these “real” journalists could run the full line from Powell to the loss of tenured positions.

  4. LarrytheG Avatar

    Ah, the conspiracy widens and deepens… “deep state” for higher ED!

    What’s a Conservative to do with all this rapant leftist skulduggery?

    Yes, just imagine – “Happy Slave” is fine for decades, but don’t you be teaching the truth!

  5. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Then, there’s always the possibility that some white guys suck as teachers and by happenstance are replaced by minorities.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      well… ” non-Leftist perspective in a classroom that respected lively discussion….” sounds interesting…

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        “Second most-rated…” but highly?

        OTOH, no shortage of self-promotion.

        1. dsmithuva75 Avatar

          4.2 out of 5.0, Ms. Naive. About 10% rated me poorly — their comments belied the fact that they did not want to work in the class and wanted multiple-choice tests rather than essay exams.

          1. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            All the bad students just didn’t like you… wait. Where have I heard that before?

          2. dsmithuva75 Avatar

            I didn’t say the “bad” students didn’t like me. Were you to actually read the poor comments, they almost universally whined about how much reading or studying they had to do.

          3. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            I’m sure. And, good luck.

  6. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    I believe the Southern Association also is responsible for the accreditation of Virginia’s public schools, at least high school and middle school. Every five years we had to go thru the dog and pony show for SACS at Briar Woods. Nice people who really wanted to help. SACS data would be a good measurement of how our public schools have adopted Mr. Northam’s sweeping education reforms.

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