Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Brewton-Parker's Fledgling Accreditation: Even if It Wins, It Loses

A couple weeks ago, we shared reports that Bretwon-Parker College, a Georgia Baptist Convention-related school, was again denied a 10-year renewal of its accreditation and placed on probation by SACS, the regional accrediting body.

Since B-PC is already thoroughly fundamentalist and is widely believed to be on the road to loss of accreditation, irrelevance, and, eventually, ruin, media reports on the debacle have been scarce.  However, since our last post, the SACS report on B-PC was made public.  The report found that, even after being on Warning for a year, Brewton-Parker

failed to demonstrate compliance with Core Requirement 2.5 (Institutional Effectiveness), Core Requirement 2.8 (Faculty), Core Requirement 2.11.1 (Financial Resources), Comprehensive Standard (Institutional Effectiveness: Educational Programs), Comprehensive Standard 3.5.4 (Terminal Degrees of Faculty), Comprehensive Standard 3.7.1 (Faculty Competence), Comprehensive Standard 3.10.1 (Financial Stability), Comprehensive Standard 3.10.3 (Control of Finances), and Federal Requirement 4.7 (Title IV Program Responsibilities) of the Principles of Accreditation. The cited standards expect an accredited institution to provide evidence that it (1) engages in ongoing, integrated, and institution-wide research-based planning and evaluation processes, (2) has an adequate
number of full-time faculty, (3) has a sound financial base and demonstrated financial stability, (4) identifies expected outcomes of and shows improvements in the area of student learning and educational programs, ( (5) ensures a sufficient number of faculty
members holding appropriate terminal degrees, (6) employs qualified faculty, (7) exercises appropriate control over all its financial resources, and (8) ensures compliance with Title IV program responsibilities.   (To read the full statements for the standards cited above, access the Principles of Accreditation at http://www.sacscoc.org/principles.asp.)

Now, B-PC's administrators will rightly argue that the school had been in bad shape for quite a few years.  Our only point is that B-PC's selling out basic norms such as academic freedom and basic Baptist distinctives such as liberty of the conscience in order to get back into the good graces of the Georgia Baptist Convention cannot possibly help the school's desperate predicament.

Unsurprisingly, though, the administrators remain upbeat.  President Mike Simoneaux, who is on loan from fellow GBC institution Truett-McConnell College, points to progress made (apparently in areas other than the SACS' laundry list above).  Failing schools always say they want to remain accredited... Until they lose accreditation.  Then they change their tune and talk about being faithful to the Lord's standards instead of some manmade bureaucracy, etc etc ad nauseam.  For now, there is absolutely no mention anywhere on the college website about being on Probation, SACS' most serious sanction.  There is a notation at the bottom of the home page with a number you can call with questions about B-PC's accreditation status.  I'm tempted to call just to see how they spin it!

The unspoken truth in all this is that SACS isn't even B-PC's biggest issue right now.  The problem remains: Even if Brewton-Parker somehow comes out of this with its accreditation intact, it really won't matter.  It's already given up on being a legitimate liberal arts college.  The fundamentalist takeover of B-PC is already accomplished.  As a number of schools vividly illustrate, accrediting bodies can't do much about fundamentalism.  They are only concerned with ensuring minimal levels of academic rigor, instructional quality, and financial stability.

Even if Brewton-Parker wins, it's already lost.

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