Unaccredited Degrees Are Legal

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by russ, Apr 20, 2005.

  1. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    And maybe if all the nieces and nephews and grandkids had been a bit nicer to Aunt Biddy and Grandpa Mortimer, they might have gotten something out of the deal. Besides, cats are good people too (sometimes better people than most humans). Maybe the deceased wanted the cats to be well taken care of.
  2. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    It does not follow from the right to own property that its ultimate disposition is up to you.

    Remember, please: dead people cannot own property.

    Examples? Well, this isn't the place for what would be a highly technical discussion, but here are three terms that you might look up in Black's just to get the basic idea:

    -entailed estates;
    -dower and curtesy; and
    -the Rule against Perpetuities.
  3. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    That leaves the problem of who gets to decide the dispensing of the property and who gets the booty.
  4. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    It sure does!

    Sometimes, the decison was made before you got the property, as in you were the donee of a life estate or the beneficiary of a trust.

    Sometimes it is a matter of operation of law, as for instance, if you die intestate or your Will does not cover all the property you had at death.

    Sometimes, if it can't go anywhere else, the State gets it!

    Sometimes, in a VERY FEW CASES, if your estate was literally HUGE and not subject to various exemptions and deducations, the vast bulk of your estate goes to the federal and state governments as estate taxes REGARDLESS of the terms of your Will or any trust you may have established. (This is FAR RARER than the GOP would have you believe, BTW)
  5. russ

    russ New Member

    To finish this train of thought, everyone has to die in the year 2010 when the federal estate tax is $0 - nada - completely eliminated. At that point you may pass on everything you own to your heirs with no federal estate tax at all. If you choose to die another year, however, then you must draft your document under Delaware law that allows you to create a dynasty trust and avoid estate taxes for generations... enough, let's get back to the original thread.

    I agree with decimon that until you can prove that someone's degree was obtained by fraud you have little basis legally to deny the validity of the degree no matter how much work was exerted to obtain it. You may not like it, you may rant and rave about it but it is legal nonetheless. As far as the federal government is concerned they have no legal function to sanction degrees, it is a state function.
  6. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    This is backwards. As Bill Dayson often points out, the onus is on the school to prove its legitimacy, not on others to disprove it. Accreditation provides a de facto proof of this.

    As for "legal," the literature is riddled with examples of people getting into big trouble with "legal" degrees. Often this trouble has come from federal, not state authorities. And you can't rant and rave all you want, but that doesn't change, nor does the nature of degree mills like the one you attend.
  7. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member


    This is WAAAY out of my area, but I suspect that even a Delaware "dynasty trust", though it might deliver the taxpayer from a Delaware STATE estate tax, probably would not shelter the estate from the so-called Generation Skipping Tax at the federal level.

    I also can't see our glorious Republican Congress enacting a permanent repeal of the estate tax even though our equally glorious President is continuing quietly to mouth that particular platitude. There remain enough fiscally nervous GOP congressmen to defeat such a measure, in concert with their hated and reviled Democrat colleagues. The Dems. will vote against repeal for ideological reasons and the R.s will vote against it for fiscal reasons, but in the end, it won't pass.

    So, starting with 2011, the cofiscatory estate tax will reappear in all its hideous glory.

    A compromise is becoming increasingly unlikely due to the growing hate language on both sides of the aisle.
  8. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    Your logic is no-wards. It starts nowhere and ends nowhere.

    What do you want? Government control of higher education? If not then what?

    The onus is on the school to prove its legitimacy to whom? To the educational consumer? To some government agency?

    Please state what it is that you want.

    The first sentence argues for or against nothing. Does the second sentence hint at a desire for federal control of all education?

    Russ is whatever he is but you, Bill and others are simply muddled. You don't know what you want but you damn well know that you want.
  9. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your parsing. Rather than respond to it (as if it could be deciphered), I'll let it stand in its immutable glory. Oh, and nice ad hominem at the end. What personal statement did I ever direct at you? You don't have a clue as to what I want or don't want, because you obviously haven't read anything I've written. (Obvious because if you had, you wouldn't ask those questions--you'd already know the answers.)
  10. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    I'm disagreeing with Russ' assertion that...

    "until you can prove that someone's degree was obtained by fraud you have little basis legally to deny the validity of the degree no matter how much work was exerted to obtain it. You may not like it, you may rant and rave about it but it is legal nonetheless."

    My point is simply this: The fact that a degree was legally granted doesn't obligate me (or employers or clients or licensing boards or whoever) to accept the degree's academic validity.

    If somebody wants me to accept that a legally granted but non-accredited degree is academically valid, then that person has to provide me with some convincing reasons why I should think that the degree is valid.

    Put even more simply: Legality does not imply academic validity.

    I would have thought that a libertarian would naturally agree with me, but I guess not.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2005
  11. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    You're not disagreeing with russ as russ is not saying you, or employers, etc. have to accept any degree. He's speaking of the legality of the degree.

    Yes, of course.

    I might agree with you if you would make some point instead of running in circles.

    What would you make illegal and on what grounds?
  12. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    Obviously schools that grant degrees in accordance with their local laws, legally grant degrees. Presumably those degrees are themselves legal, as is a graduate's possession of them. I don't think that anyone has ever denied those things.

    The questions seem to concern the subsequent acceptance or denial of those degrees' validity. Academic validity is not the same thing as legality.

    I'm not suggesting that anything be made illegal.

    If I'm making any point about the role of government at all, it's to say that the laws permitting schools to legally grant degrees don't compel individuals, employers, clients or professional licensing boards to accept the validity of those degrees. That decision is up to the individuals, organizations or agencies concerned.
  13. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    That's up to you. You can accept or deny as you please.

    This thread is about the legality of degrees.
  14. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    It's not ad hominem if it's true, Rich. A true ad hominem would have been accusing you of strawman arguments. Ad hominem because I don't believe you have knowingly made or would knowingly make strawman arguments. Hence, I accused you of muddled thought.

    Would you outlaw K-W or other schools likely sub-par but not fraudulent? If so then is that because they offer "college degrees?" That may be a valid reason if a "reasonable person" would expect a college degree to be of RA standards. Perhaps K-W should offer diplomas.
  15. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    This presumes that K-WU is merely "sub-par" and not "fraudulent." I don't agree, no matter how those terms are defined.

    If K-WU didn't offer college degrees, I wouldn't care. I'm not interested in the efficacy of their instruction--that utter lack is merely a side issue.

    It is legal for K-WU to issue degrees. It is legal for its "graduates" to possess such degrees. It is legal to try to use them, in most places. But, as Bill points out, that is not the same as making them actual college degrees. They are not. But their owners and the business that issues them are in a good position to continue their co-conspiracy--except for the people who get found out and have bad things happen to them. (If that happens--I don't recall any stories about K-WU time bombs.)
  16. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    But what about the legality of degrees?

    If the point is nothing more that if schools are granting degrees legally, then those schools are granting degrees legally, we can all agree and call it a day. It's unassailable, mainly because it's a tautology.

    But Russ seems to want to draw some additional inferences concerning validity from the fact that degrees are being legally granted. He says:

    "until you can prove that someone's degree was obtained by fraud you have little basis legally to deny the validity of the degree no matter how much work was exerted to obtain it. You may not like it, you may rant and rave about it but it is legal nonetheless."

    I'm making the impeccably libertarian observation that we don't need no stinkin' legal basis in order to deny a degree's validity.

    That denial doesn't suggest that the degree wasn't granted legally. What it does suggest is that the degree is academically meaningless.

    If we have reason to question a degree's validity, it doesn't help us in the least to learn that the school that granted the degree did so legally. What we really need is some convincing evidence concerning the program's academics.
  17. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    IMO, that agreement should have been made and the day called.

    More impeccably libertarian would have been to speak for yourself and not some undefined "we." You can of course accept or reject a K-W degree. I shouldn't be able to tell you that you must accept or reject.

    If russ is saying that it is valid for him to present to an employer his credentials, including a K-W degree, then I agree. That degree would be in addition to other educational certificates, stated work experience and whatever else he presents as his qualification for employment. The onus is on the employer or prospective employer to check the veracity and quality of the credentials claimed.

    You can make that determination but we cannot, other than as government diktat.

    I'm sorry, Bill, but that has no meaning. You leave undefined the "we" and you leave unstated what should be done should "we" be not convinced of the quality of the school's academics.

    I can accept or reject by my standards and you can accept or reject by your standards but "we" can only be government dictating what it will.
  18. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    The phrase, "It's legal," gives thoughtful lawyers a bad case of hives.

    Legal where? For what purpose? Legal as in "It's not a crime," or legal as in "It won't expose you to civil liability"?

    Legal how? Legal as in, "Possession itself is not a crime," or as in "Claiming this credential is not civil/criminal fraud in an employment/contract situatuion"?
  19. Morgan Khanstein

    Morgan Khanstein New Member

    Validity, Meaning, Exclusion/Inclusion

    I’d like to pursue the issue of “validity” and “assigned meaning” or “worth” of a degree.

    As a DL student and graduate, let me begin by sharing a very sad and disappointing tale:

    An acquaintance of mine, who holds a B.A., is interested in pursuing a master’s degree, an eventual Ph.D., and he would like to one day teach full-time in academe. He is not familiar with DL. Because he is a non-traditional student (read: middle aged, with kids, career responsibilities) he is unwilling to quit work and pursue a degree full-time.

    I encouraged him to consider DL, and steered him towards UNISA (South Africa), which has a M.A. program in his field. UNISA (South Africa), in my opinion, ranks among the top schools in the world (not just DL schools).

    My acquaintance did some investigative work by calling the departmental chairpersons at two different colleges in the area. Both chairs told him that under no condition would they consider hiring either an UNISA or DL graduate. As you can imagine, I "went ballistic."

    Now, the issue is not if the school is accredited. Nor was it if the school is “foreign.” The issue was that it was DL (and foreign seemed to take it down even another notch).

    While we have been arguing over RA versus UA, there are still many ignorant and prejudiced professors in academia who hold key positions. I don’t think that for most of them it is an issue of whether an IHE is accredited or not (they would never hire an UA or DETC grad), but it is that the mode of instructional delivery has still not gained equal acceptance.

    Here are a few thoughts that have been going through my mind:
    Don’t we need to further a paradigm shift where the emphasis is on the individual and his/her work and achievements rather than on the institutional affiliation, mode of instructional delivery, rank of school attended, etc.? How do we change opinions? What does this imply for the RA versus non-RA debate in a society that ranks (among RA schools), feverishly creates hierarchies (among RA schools), and excludes/includes with relish?

    I look forward to your replies.
  20. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    A thoughtful post, Morgan.

    The shifts are happening, but not quickly and not universally. There will, for quite some time, be people who resent the greater access DL provides. So they'll gripe about the quality (without actually inspecting it) or rigor (without actually understanding it) of DL. These are the same people who resent night school programs, weekend programs, for-profit schools, schools that deliver primarily high-demand degree programs, etc. It's the "I had to go through hell to get my degree, so should you" attitude.

    These things change with time as the old leave and the new take over. Now, that's a generalization, as there certainly are academics in place right now that embrace DL.

    The RA/non-RA discussions are normally not about academic quality, they're about degree acceptability and utility. (Not exclusively, but largely.) Discussions about the acceptability of RA-DL vs. RA-residential are certainly germane--real differences to exist. For-profit vs. not-for-profit is another discussion that is worth pursuing. No reasonable person would state (despite strawman arguments proffered by mill shills) that all RA degrees are of equal stature and utility. But it remains true that the largest rift in any of these comparisons lies with the Accredited vs. Unaccredited comparison.

    Much of DL, especially that from free-standing schools--has its roots in alternative, unaccredited schools. Twenty years ago, most of your alternative options were unaccredited. Those alternatives included both the legitimate and illegitimate--and it was sometimes hard to distinguish. But times have changed. Most of the legitimate, unaccredited schools have either (a) become accredited or (b) gone out of business. Again, 20 years ago, Century University and K-WU were considered a joke. But they were lumped in with Sarasota, Walden, and others because they all had one thing in common: a lack of accreditation. Those days are gone. Except for a few state-approved schools in California, I'm at a loss to think of a really legitimate DL school that isn't accredited. (I can't even think of a school who will be the next JIU or Capella--a new one that is currently unaccredited but is on its way.) But the advocates for those behemoths who remain unaccredited--like Century and K-WU--use expired arguments from an earlier time to justify their choices. And because they have a vested interest in these schools (not just their own, but the entire class), they persist. If these folks didn't continue to work their agendas, there would be no discussion about it (except for degree mills and related stories). Unaccredited DL schools are such a tiny fringe that they warrant little discussion--except when they either hit the news or when their adherants come here and post their wishful thinking.

    Bottom line: the dilemma you describe (DL vs. non-DL) certainly exists and is definitely worthy of discussion. But don't be surprised when others with very different agendas continue to hijack the scene.

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