Obama Administration Leaves Conservative Schools Off 'College Scorecard'

A Matter of Principle

This struggle brings to mind the question: why do Hillsdale and these other schools refuse to accept federal funding in the first place? In a phone interview with PJ Media, Hillsdale College’s provost, Dr. David Whalen, explained the two fundamental reasons why the college keeps its distance.

“We’re very proud of our heritage,” Dr. Whalen said, referring to Hillsdale’s position as the first college to prohibit by charter any discrimination based on “nationality, color or sex.” Title IV funding requires schools to track and report racial demographics -- a move which Hillsdale refuses to do on principle. “We stand by that, regardless of some cost,” Whalen explained.

As the college’s official statement explains, “Hillsdale College provides comprehensive data to a wide variety of independent ranking institutions that do not require it to compromise its principles by counting its students by race, and the College is confident that parents and students looking for a rigorous, classical liberal arts education will find Hillsdale College without the government’s help.”

In addition to this principle, Whalen explained that Hillsdale believes it is important to keep higher education separate from government control.

“In a democratic commercial republic, it is extremely important that the government does not hold the pursestrings for that form of education which most matters to government itself,” the provost argued. Among other things, college education aims to produce good citizens, ones able to think for themselves and therefore able to govern themselves. Government “cannot manufacture the kinds of people it wishes to govern.”

Since “financial control includes every other kind of control,” Hillsdale and other schools are right to refuse federal funding, even though it is costly.

This Mixup Shows Why Colleges Should Be Independent

Whalen critiqued the current system, where most colleges receive a great deal of federal money, as “very much to the detriment of our republic.” He argued that, “though the effects of federal funding are in some ways unintended, they are often lamentable and pernicious.”

Whalen said that the scorecard’s institutional bias against independent schools is a good example of the bad effects of government controlling education. “They are trying to shed light on higher education, but instead they are spreading confusion.” There are many fairly easy ways of obtaining detailed information about the schools which were excluded from the scorecard, but the very system blinds the bureaucrats to these other options.

“It’s like trying to eat salad with a shovel -- good things fall off the scorecard and the bureaucracy does not have the means or the imagination to find a better way.”

Kyle Olson, founder of higher education news website EAGnews.org, put the problem more bluntly. “Such a scorecard designed by statists will naturally cast independent private institutions in a negative light,” Olson told Fox News. “Parents and prospective students don’t need any seal of approval from President Obama or some DOE bureaucrat to decide whether a school is good or not,” they can find out on their own.

Families may indeed have even less need of this college scorecard, especially when they realize it bars good schools for bad reasons.