Just in case you had forgotten all the many ways Donald Trump’s presidency is poised to screw up American institutions, we now have this reminder that there’s almost nothing the Trumpsters don’t want to get their freakishly short vulgar fingers on: Trump has appointed Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty “University,” to head a federal task force on higher education. Because nothing says “quality higher education” like Liberty U., the extremely profitable school where the book of Genesis is science and the “university” president says he always carries a gun in case radical Islamic terrorism breaks out on campus. So how is Jerry Jr. going to fix higher ed policy at the Department of Education? Full-Immersion Baptism and Language Instruction?
So far, the exact “size, scope, and mission” of Falwell’s task force hasn’t been announced. But an interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education, Falwell explained he’s looking forward to the chance to free higher education from the shackles of “overreaching regulation” and accountability that have held back so much of the economy, probably a lot like Trump’s EPA will free toxic waste dumpers from the constraints that have kept them from living their dreams. Falwell specifically complained about all the Education Department’s “micromanagement” in areas like accreditation and the way colleges recruit students, suggesting he’d like to roll back those ridiculous Obama regulations aimed at preventing for-profit colleges from sucking up students’ federal benefits while not actually teaching anything. How can you really say we have a free market if scam artists like Corinthian Colleges are prevented from recruiting students with false promises, encouraging them to get all the student loans they can, and then sticking the students with the bill?
New York’s regulation preventing weekend real estate seminars from calling themselves a “university,” or allowing malcontents to sue “schools” that don’t teach anything. Trump University will rise again!
“The goal is to pare it back and give colleges and their accrediting agencies more leeway in governing their affairs,” said Mr. Falwell, who said he had been discussing possible issues with several other college leaders and at least one head of an accrediting agency for the past two months. “I’ve got notebooks full of issues,” he said.
Falwell told the Washington Post pretty much the same thing: He’s going to make sure higher education is freed from the burden of intrusive government demands that they actually do education of some kind:
“In the Department of Education, there’s too much intrusion into the independent accreditation,” Falwell told The Washington Post in a telephone interview. “There’s too much intrusion into the operation of universities and colleges. I’ve got a whole list of concerns. It mainly has to do with deregulation.”
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The other big scoop from the Chronicle interview is that Trump asked Falwell to be his secretary of Education, but Falwell turned down the offer so he could continue running Liberty U. We’ll leave it to you dear Wonkers to discuss in the comments, which are not allowed, whether Jerry Falwell Jr. could possibly be a worse choice than Betsy DeVos. Which, yes, is like asking whether you’d prefer your cherry pie laced with strychnine or arsenic. In any case, you’ll be delighted to know Falwell thinks DeVos is just the bees’ knees as an educator, never mind that she’s never been anywhere near a public school, except perhaps while scouting out sites for missile strikes. She hates over-regulation, too, to the point that she pushed through a charter school law in Michigan that required no accountability for publicly-funded corporate schools. Falwell’s looking forward to helping with her important mission of dismantling the department she’s been selected to lead: “The task force will be a big help to her. It will do some of the work for her.” Oh, goody! Our nipples explode with delight.
Finally, there’s this note from the Chronicle, which tells us who’s really running things:
He kept the task-force offer private until Tuesday, when Steve Bannon, President Trump’s chief strategist, gave him the green light to discuss it, according to Mr. Falwell.
Wasn’t that nice of him? Please, ANYTHING for people to talk about other than the travel ban.