TAMPA, FLORIDA — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody sued the Biden administration over its attempts to undercut Florida’s nation-leading higher education reforms.
For a college or university to fully operate in the United States with access to federal student loans, it must be accredited by federally approved private accrediting bodies known as “accreditors.”
BIDEN ADMIN BLOCKS FUNDING
Last year, Governor DeSantis signed legislation that requires colleges and universities to seek accreditation from different accreditors in consecutive accreditation cycles. But Biden’s Department of Education is blocking those directives and wants to force Florida colleges and universities to obtain accreditation from entities that do not align with Florida’s educational standards and are led by unelected bureaucrats with no congressional oversight.
“I will not allow Joe Biden’s Department of Education to defund America’s #1 higher education system all because we refuse to bow to unaccountable accreditors who think they should run Florida’s public universities,” said DeSantis.
INCREASING TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Florida ranks number one in the nation for higher education, but state officials say the U.S. Department of Education is unconstitutionally collaborating with accreditation bodies to block the Governor’s efforts to bring increased transparency and accountability to public colleges and universities.
DeSantis said his priority for higher education is to bring transparency and accountability while reorienting the mission of state colleges and universities away from destructive ideologies and back toward the pursuit of truth.
“The Biden administration’s attempts to block these reforms is an abuse of federal power, and with this lawsuit, we will ensure that Florida’s pursuit of educational excellence will continue,” DeSantis said.
This lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of Florida, seeks to strip private, unaccountable accreditors of their authority to stand in the way of Florida’s higher education reforms.
FIGHTING UNELECTED PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS
“For too long, private academic accreditors have been holding our colleges and universities hostage,” said Attorney General Ashley Moody. “Thanks to the fearless leadership of Governor DeSantis, we are fighting to take back our public postsecondary education system from unelected private organizations that have no accountability or oversight.”
State law requires over half of Florida’s public colleges and universities to change accreditors in the next two years. But their ability to do so is substantially burdened, if not prevented entirely, by the Biden administration’s abuse of the current accreditation scheme.
Florida’s lawsuit filed today asserts that the federal government’s current accreditation scheme is plainly unlawful under the “private non-delegation doctrine,” which holds that “federal power can be wielded only by the federal government [and] private entities may do so only if they are subordinate to an agency,” as well as other constitutional provisions and federal laws.
Ray Rodrigues, Chancellor of the State University System of Florida said Florida’s higher education system must be allowed to choose the regional accrediting agency that aligns with its institutional goals.
“The University of Central Florida’s goal to become a preeminent university and join the American Association of Universities is better supported by joining The Higher Learning Commission,” Rodrigues said as he criticized the U.S. Department of Education for blocking the move.
Governor DeSantis said Florida will not allow its public colleges and universities to be held hostage by accreditors that are unaccountable to the people of Florida. DeSantis says other states will likely follow Florida’s higher education blueprint and the lawsuit will set a precedent for future legal battles.