[NOTE: Correction made to the status of the legislation relating to funding the academy and how that impacts reaccreditation. Substantive changes shown in red]
On March 1, 2017, the Academy faces a deadline to demonstrate that it has met the requirements of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (“MSCHE”) in order to maintain its accreditation. What have we heard from the administration? Crickets. Instead of focusing on the actual concerns of MSCHE, the administration went off on its accountability-diversion strategy of blaming the decision to place the Academy on accreditation warning on a false narrative of pervasive sexual assault and sexual harassment during sea year.
That is not to say that some progress has not been made. One requirement that the Academy must meet is to show that it has taken steps to get Congress to remove the handcuffs placed on USMMA’s ability to spend money. Those handcuffs adversely affect the Academy when it comes to hiring and funding its operations.
Fortunately, the Continuing Resolution that passed in December Proposed legislation in the Senate 2017 appropriations bill for Transportation, Housing and Development (“T-HUD”) included language that freed up 50% of the Academy’s budget by removing restrictions that required approval by DOT before it could be spent. Unfortunately, the House version of the bill did not include that language and the conflict never was resolved before this last session of Congress ended. Thus, no legislation resulted. But, presumably the new session of Congress will start with similar legislation. And, the progress so far may be sufficient to show MSCHE that steps were taken to meet that requirement. The other 50% was still subject to restraints; but, the biggest problems with respect to the funding arose early in each fiscal year and freeing up of half of the funding would eliminate the bottleneck. That should satisfy MSCHE. Why the Academy has chosen not to notify its stakeholders of this important milestone is beyond me.
Of course, given the overall radio silence about any effort to address the MSCHE requirements, the administration’s failure to note that Congress
acted attempted to address the one requirement that was in Congress’ power to address should not be surprising — it’s been more than six months since the Academy’s web page dedicated to the reaccreditation issue was last updated.
The last official communication I can find about the effort to address the MSCHE requirements is in the Academy’s December 16, 2016 news bulletin — which reported on the month-old news of what Superintendent Helis told the Congressional Board of Visitors about the accreditation effort on November 14, 2016:
“In addition, I explained that as part of our re-accreditation with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), we are implementing new assessment models to improve our campus-wide effectiveness.”
Talk about bureaucratic double-speak. I summarized the MSCHE requirements in this post. I’m sure MSCHE will be just as puzzled as I am as to how “implementing new assessment models to improve our campus-wide effectiveness” fits in to those requirements.
Superintendent Helis should be giving regular updates to all stakeholders on the progress the Academy is making towards meeting each and every one of the MSCHE requirements. But I’m sure he will go about that with the same urgency he has shown towards releasing the LMI culture study. Remember that study? The administration claimed the need for the study was so urgent that it had to be completed in 60 days. And it has now sat on the results of the study for almost 30 days.