Washington, DC—On Tuesday, April 19, 2022, American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) President Dr. Michael Poliakoff joined Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as he signed into law Senate Bill 7044, an omnibus higher education reform bill. S.B. 7044 makes a series of transformative changes to Florida’s higher education system, which serves 650,000 students. Alongside Dr. Poliakoff were Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls (District 65), Senate President Wilton Simpson (District 10), Polk State College President and Chair of the Florida College System Council of Presidents Dr. Angela M. Garcia Falconetti, Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran, and a dozen college students and taxpayers.
“The nation owes Florida a vote of thanks,” stated President Poliakoff. “What happens on campus does not stay on campus. The level to which we prepare our college graduates for career, community, and citizenship will be a major driver of our success as a nation.”
The legislation will prohibit Florida public postsecondary institutions from being “accredited by the same accrediting agency or association for consecutive accreditation cycles,” thereby breaking what Governor DeSantis views as a monopoly held by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which serves as Florida’s accreditor. “Regional accreditors have been delegated enormous authority to grant or withhold federal student aid, which is life or death for most colleges and universities,” remarked Dr. Poliakoff. “And they have too often been a law unto themselves. The system has devolved to over-regulation and intrusion into matters properly left to governing boards and to the state.”
S.B. 7044 allows the Florida Board of Governors to adopt “a comprehensive post-tenure review every 5 years.” It will also require public colleges and universities to itemize proposed changes in tuition and fees in advance and post “additional information about textbooks and instructional materials” at least 45 days before the first day of class in each term. These reforms ensure that students are not ambushed by hidden fees and sudden tuition hikes and will have a more thorough knowledge of course content before selecting their classes. “It was once common to hear America’s higher education called ‘the envy of the world.’ Today, we see an example of how Florida intends to make sure that is a reality,” concluded Dr. Poliakoff. Read his full statement here.
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