August 30, 2023
Education Department approves one Florida college’s application to change accreditors. A new state law—and Ron DeSantis—dictate that Florida’s 39 other public colleges do the same.
The U.S. Department of Education has given Florida SouthWestern State College approval to seek a new accreditor, setting in motion a state plan that will require its 40 public institutions to move away from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges.
Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, attributed the approval to a lawsuit the state brought in June challenging the Department of Education and the accrediting system. In his telling, the federal government blinked.
“The Biden Administration backed down & allowed a Florida college to seek new accreditation. We will continue to fight to protect our nation-leading higher education system. The federal government can’t use shadowy accreditors to dictate what’s best for our students,” DeSantis posted on X (formerly Twitter) last week, after Florida SouthWestern received approval to seek a new accreditor.
The Department of Education, however, said such requests simply take time to approve: “We began the review process once we received notification from Florida SouthWestern State College in January of this year. This is an iterative process that involves engaging with schools to obtain necessary information. We concluded this process this month,” an Education Department spokesperson said in an emailed statement.