By Andy Thomason
After Democrats won control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November, observers predicted that Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, would face fresh scrutiny. DeVos, a billionaire philanthropist, has hired officials with ties to for-profit education, and critics have long alleged that those ties have helped drive her department’s higher-education policy. With new investigatory powers, House Democrats — led by Rep. Bobby C. Scott of Virginia, the new head of the body’s education committee — signaled a desire to investigate.
On Tuesday, congressional Democrats sent DeVos a letter demanding information about a controversy that has appeared to metastasize in recent weeks. It involves accreditors, a watchdog agency, and lots of acronyms. It’s a little hard to follow, so let’s start at the beginning:
In 2016 the Obama administration revoked the federal recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (Acics), an accreditor that had faced waves of criticism for failing to police the for-profit colleges it accredited. For instance, Acics accredited Corinthian Colleges, which shut down in 2015 after heightened federal scrutiny. Sen. Elizabeth A. Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat and 2020 presidential contender, had accused Acics of “cranking open the spigot to allow taxpayer funds to flow to some of the sleaziest… (continue reading)