As reported here, the permanent, entrenched, bureaucracy in MARAD has refused to make public any of the actions that the Academy has taken to address the requirements imposed by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The MSCHE requirements are the steps that the Academy must take to avoid losing its accreditation. (Those requirements were discussed in this post.)
Why wouldn’t the administration release this information? The redacted information [supposedly] reflects action taken to address the MSCHE requirements. Is the Academy not proud of the steps it has taken? Perhaps the problem is that it has not done much and it is embarrassed by the lack of action?
Or maybe it is something worse? After my post about the inadequate FOIA response, I received several private messages in which stakeholders speculated that the report was redacted to hide something far more sinister. Several people are speculating that the Academy is hiding changes it is making to indoctrination and plebe recognition (according to reports I’ve received, the Academy is substantially weakening indoc and will immediately recognize the plebes after indoc). These individuals speculate that the Academy is trying to formalize those changes in the report to MSCHE in an effort to make it harder to rescind the changes (i.e. creating an argument that if the changes are rescinded, it might jeopardize the Academy’s accreditation). Others have speculated that the hidden changes reflect a commitment to ending sea year for third classmen in favor of putting them on state school training ships. (Former Secretary of Transportation Foxx’s, discredited, $363,000, LMI Culture study recommended that the Academy evaluate putting third class midshipmen on state school training ships and, as we have documented here and here, MARAD has tried to force the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Working Group to include such an evaluation as part of the Working Group’s report to Congress.)
Although I have a low opinion of the entrenched bureaucracy at MARAD that deals with the Academy, I don’t buy into the idea that it is trying to hide future changes in the monitoring report sent to MSCHE. For one thing, such future changes would not even address the MSCHE requirements (which were primarily devoted to leadership issues). But, the fact that they are being bandied about demonstrates one reason why MARAD’s lack of transparency is so harmful.
For what it’s worth, I think Occam’s Razor applies in this instance. I think MARAD and the Academy administration are simply embarrassed by the limited steps they took to address the MSCHE requirements and want to avoid having the lack of progress publicized. Or perhaps they are reporting actions that we all know should have been taken much sooner as examples of the progress they have made and they are afraid that if they make the report public, we will point out how poorly they’ve responded to the threat to accreditation. Here is one example of an action that should have been taken much sooner.
I could be wrong and would be happy to learn that the MARAD and the Academy administration actually implemented a number of positive policies that will end the threat to accreditation. So prove me wrong and end all of the speculation: