Bill Description: House Bill 315 would establish that if a community college loses accreditation or ceases to operate, control of its property and assets shall be assumed by the unelected officials in the State Board of Education, who would hold the assets in trust until the college resumes operation or it is replaced with a successor. This would reduce accountability and transparency by taking away authority from community colleges' locally elected board of trustees. The bill effectively makes accreditation mandatory for community colleges, rather than voluntary, thus stifling innovation and experimentation. It would also establish a precedent of unequal treatment between four-year public universities and community colleges.
Rating: - 5
Does the bill reduce or eliminate layers of bureaucracy allowing universities to be more flexible, improve feedback mechanisms, and decentralize decisions to the individual level? Conversely, does the bill create or increase layers of bureaucracy?
House Bill 315 would increase bureaucratic regulatory burdens on community colleges by forcing these institutions to be either accredited or be shut down, with their property and assets assumed by the State Board of Education (SBOE). The SBOE only allows all public four-year institutions and community colleges who voluntarily seek accreditation to be accredited by one institution — the NorthWest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Thus, House Bill 315 would have the effect of exclusively requiring community colleges to be accredited by the NWCCU or cease to operate. Community colleges and four-year public universities currently seek accreditation on a voluntary basis. This new regulation would make accreditation from one accreditation institution mandatory, thus granting the NWCCU a monopoly on accrediting all community colleges in the state of Idaho and stifling the independent decision making of community colleges.
Does the bill create more transparency or accountability of public institutions of education? Conversely, does the bill decrease transparency and accountability in public education institutions?
This bill decreases accountability in public institutions of education by giving authority of the property and assets of community colleges that have lost accreditation to unelected bureaucrats in the SBOE. Currently community colleges are governed by an elected Board of Trustees, which makes independent decisions according to the will of voters. House Bill 315 eliminates this local control by handing authority to the SBOE if accreditation of the college is revoked. For years, appointed officials in the SBOE have failed to hold public universities and community colleges across the state accountable to their core mission — the pursuit of knowledge and protecting academic freedom —and enabled them to continue ideological pursuits under diversity, equity and inclusion programs.
House Bill 315 decreases transparency in public institutions by forcing community colleges to be accredited by the NWCCU or else lose authority over their property and assets. Accreditation is currently voluntary, but under House Bill 315, community colleges are forced to comply with the demands of the NWCCU, a private institution that does not make its members' votes publicly available. Additionally, the NWCCU is not subject to the will of voters when establishing criteria for degree-granting authority.
Does the bill remove barriers to entry thus incentivizing entrepreneurship, and increasing the supply side of education services in the marketplace? Conversely, does the bill create or increase barriers to entry?
House Bill 315 would make accreditation mandatory instead of voluntary for community colleges in Idaho. Accreditation is the foremost barrier to entry in the market for colleges and universities, by enabling a single provider that establishes licensing which thwarts competition. The SBOE has given the NWCCU a monopoly on accreditation in Idaho by requiring all public four-year universities and community colleges to be accredited by the NWCCU if they voluntarily seek accreditation. This crowds out other accreditation options and limits innovation and experimentation in higher education. House Bill 315 exacerbates this problem by giving the SBOE control of all community college assets and property if a college loses accreditation by the NWCCU.
House Bill 315 only applies to community colleges and not four-year public universities. This establishes an exclusive and discriminatory barrier to entry for community colleges.