When attacking accreditation means attacking academic freedom

As I looked out my bathroom window this morning, I saw a robin. Yes, unmistakably, a robin. And then another.

I’m feeling a whole lot more skeptical of the claim that robins are a sign of spring than hopeful that spring is arriving.

The snow continued to melt while I was in Erie. There’s still a lot of snow cover, but also a lot of exposed grass here in Pittsburgh.

All that said, I’ve been thinking more about my decision to move to Erie. The arguments for haste:

  1. Potholes and the potential damage to my new car.
  2. Potential savings on rent costs: It appears I can mortgage a place in Erie for a lower monthly payment than rent here or there.
  3. Political polarization is a real problem in Pittsburgh; the hate here and the accompanying road rage compound my post-traumatic stress.

The arguments for caution and delay:

  1. Moving is expensive and I’m still recovering financially from last year when I was off several weeks waiting for the new car and when I moved to my present place.
  2. My present landlord insists on annual leases terminating in April, which is just about the worst possible time of year for me to move. I’m recovering from the winter doldrums that make Uber/Lyft/taxi driving especially financially dreadful at the same time taxes are due.
  3. The second trip exposed the difficulties of Erie in the Uber/Lyft/taxi business and Erie seems to have an endemic problem with residents failing to honor odd-even parking rules so snow plows can get through.[1] It’s possible this was an especially bad year but when you’re financially precarious, these are the situations you have to plan for.
  4. Uber and Lyft are likely not long for this world.[2] Given my inability to find alternative employment, which I desperately want,[3] I’m going to have an even more serious problem if I’m stuck with a mortgage.
  5. What I’m really seeing here is that another move isn’t going to resolve my frustrations which are really about the job hunt. I don’t want to be driving for a living, let alone for Uber or Lyft.[4] The reason the potholes are urgent, the reason the driving conditions in Erie become a problem is the same: I’m stuck driving for Uber and Lyft. And if those companies do, as I expect, indeed go belly up,[5] while there will still be demand for the services these companies provide, I completely do not want to get into the headaches of running my own business—including marketing, at which I am absolutely hopelessly inept—in this space on top of the headaches I already have.

All this said, I think an Erie suburb could be a lovely place to live.


Academic freedom

A bill in the Florida legislature would require universities and colleges to change accreditors annually which, given the length of time required to win accreditation would be all but impossible,[6] and

states that higher education institutions may take legal action against their accreditors if they are “negatively impacted by retaliatory action” from that accreditor. It’s unclear exactly what actions would be considered retaliatory under the bill.[7]

This is likely a response[8] to the ruckus over the University of Florida attempting to restrain political science professors from testifying against the state on voting rights. In the ensuing uproar, the university backed down, the professors sued anyway, and a judge was blistering in ruling against the university. I hadn’t actually heard, but cannot be surprised, that the university’s regional accreditor also sent a letter of inquiry regarding the matter to the university, as any accreditor would be required to do.[9] This very much appears to be a desperate effort to assert political control over universities and academic freedom.

Accreditors routinely audit programs and schools at periodic intervals and in my time in school, I saw such audits a couple times. Even these drag on for years with massive outreach to students and faculty. Accreditation is what permits a university’s students to access federal student aid, especially student loans, which is what nearly all universities actually rely upon to pay skyrocketing tuitions and fees.[10] So unless Florida intends to actually fund higher education, the bill would effectively make institutions of higher education in the state untenable.

Emma Whitford, “Florida Could Make Switching Accreditors Mandatory,” Inside Higher Ed, February 11, 2022, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2022/02/11/florida-bill-would-require-colleges-change-accreditors


  1. [1]Kevin Flowers, “Owners of buried vehicles face tickets, towing as city of Erie plows ahead to clear snow,” Erie Times-News, February 9, 2022, https://www.goerie.com/story/news/local/2022/02/09/city-erie-pa-vehicle-owners-face-tickets-towing-snow-buried-cars/6693992001/; Ethan Kibbe, “Frustration Continues Over Illegal Parking Concerns,” Erie News Now, January 31, 2022,
  2. [2]David Benfell, “This is not a business plan,” Not Housebroken, February 5, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/06/20/this-is-not-a-business-plan/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  5. [5]David Benfell, “This is not a business plan,” Not Housebroken, February 5, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/06/20/this-is-not-a-business-plan/
  6. [6]Emma Whitford, “Florida Could Make Switching Accreditors Mandatory,” Inside Higher Ed, February 11, 2022, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2022/02/11/florida-bill-would-require-colleges-change-accreditors
  7. [7]Emma Whitford, “Florida Could Make Switching Accreditors Mandatory,” Inside Higher Ed, February 11, 2022, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2022/02/11/florida-bill-would-require-colleges-change-accreditors
  8. [8]Emma Whitford, “Florida Could Make Switching Accreditors Mandatory,” Inside Higher Ed, February 11, 2022, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2022/02/11/florida-bill-would-require-colleges-change-accreditors
  9. [9]Lindsay Ellis, “After Scathing Criticism, U. of Florida Will Let Professors Testify Against the State,” Chronicle of Higher Education, November 5, 2021, https://www.chronicle.com/article/after-scathing-criticism-u-of-florida-will-let-professors-testify-against-the-state; Andrew Jeong, “University of Florida bars faculty from testifying in voting rights lawsuit against DeSantis administration,” Washington Post, October 30, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/10/30/florida-voting-rights-desantis-lawsuit/; Jack Stripling, “Blasting U. of Florida, Judge Says Professors’ Testimony Can’t Be Blocked,” Chronicle of Higher Education, January 21, 2022, https://www.chronicle.com/article/blasting-u-of-florida-judge-says-professors-testimony-cant-be-blocked; Emma Whitford, “Florida Could Make Switching Accreditors Mandatory,” Inside Higher Ed, February 11, 2022, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2022/02/11/florida-bill-would-require-colleges-change-accreditors
  10. [10]Elizabeth Tandy Shermer, “Fixing the Student-Debt Crisis Isn’t Enough,” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 16, 2021, https://www.chronicle.com/article/fixing-the-student-debt-crisis-isnt-enough

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