Triggered by my research into Life Christian University, I have discovered that some states make it illegal to use degrees from unaccredited schools or degrees which are not based on actual academic work. This post provides a look at Nevada’s law which requires evidence that work was done to get a degree. I start with this one because it addresses degrees which are awarded based on life experience. Here is the law:
NRS 394.700Prohibition; penalty.
1. It is unlawful for a person knowingly to use or attempt to use:
(a) A false or misleading degree or honorary degree conferred by a private entity, regardless of whether that entity is located in this State and regardless of whether that entity is authorized to operate in this State; or
(b) A degree or honorary degree conferred by a private entity in a false or misleading manner, regardless of whether that entity is located in this State and regardless of whether that entity is authorized to operate in this State,
in connection with admission to any institution of higher education or in connection with any business, employment, occupation, profession, trade or public office.
2. Unless a greater penalty is provided by specific statute, a person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not more than $5,000 or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 6 months, or by both fine and imprisonment.
3. In addition to any criminal penalty imposed pursuant to subsection 2, a person who violates the provisions of this section is subject to a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $5,000 for each violation. The Attorney General or any district attorney of this State may recover the penalty in a civil action brought in the name of the State of Nevada in any court of competent jurisdiction.
4. For the purposes of this section, a degree or honorary degree is false or misleading or is used in a false or misleading manner if it:
(a) States or suggests that the person named in the degree or honorary degree has completed the requirements of an academic or professional program of study in a particular field of endeavor beyond the secondary school level and the person has not, in fact, completed the requirements of the program of study;
(b) Is offered as his or her own by a person other than the person who completed the requirements of the program of study; or
(c) Is awarded, bestowed, conferred, given, granted, conveyed or sold:
(1) Based upon more than 10 percent of the recipient’s documented life experience and not based upon actual completion of academic work;
(2) By a person or entity located in this State in violation of this chapter, as determined by the Commission; or
(3) By a person or entity located outside this State which would be a violation of this chapter if the person or entity were located in this State, as determined by the Commission. (emphasis added)
5. As used in this section:
(a) “Degree” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 394.620.
(b) “Honorary degree” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 394.620.
Joyce Meyer, David Barton and the other Life Christian University “distinguished degree holders” should be careful when in Nevada. According to Douglas Wingate, the PhDs given to “distinguished degree holders” are given solely in consideration of their life and ministry experience. Nevada forbids that kind of degree to be used in the state. If more than 10% of the work for a degree is based on life experience, it is considered “false or misleading.” Even honorary degrees cannot be portrayed as having been earned. Clearly, the definition of “earned degree” as used by LCU would be considered false and misleading in Nevada.
I am compiling a list of states which penalize the improper use of degrees and applying those findings to some of “distinguished degree holders.” Stay tuned.
Life Christian University is a school in Lutz, FL which awarded what school founder Douglas Wingate calls “earned degrees” to “big name” preachers who never attended the school. Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, and a host of other “distinguished degree holders” were given PhD degrees in recognition of their work. According to LCU, these degrees are earned.
Additionally, LCU’s requirements for a bachelor’s degree are much lower than at an accredited school. LCU doesn’t match the state requirements on how many hours a person should attend classes to get a degree.
LCU’s accreditation is with a group — Accreditation Commission International — that has a checkered past and allows LCU to simply add branch campuses without an accreditation visit. In fact, LCU switched to ACI for that reason. ACI is not recognized by the Department of Education as an acceptable accreditation body.
Now let’s look at the federal definition of a diploma mill:
‘‘(20) DIPLOMA MILL.—The term ‘diploma mill’ means an entity that—
‘‘(A)(i) offers, for a fee, degrees, diplomas, or certificates, that may be used to represent to the general public that the individual possessing such a degree, diploma, or certificate has completed a program of postsecondary education or training; and ‘‘(ii) requires such individual to complete little or no education or coursework to obtain such degree, diploma, or certificate; and
‘‘(B) lacks accreditation by an accrediting agency or association that is recognized as an accrediting agency or association of institutions of higher education (as such term is defined in section 102) by— ‘‘(i) the Secretary pursuant to subpart 2 of part H of title IV; or ‘‘(ii) a Federal agency, State government, or other organization or association that recognizes accrediting agencies or associations.
LCU’s degrees require much less work for achievement of a bachelor’s than the law demands for a traditional bachelor’s. And as we have learned, some degree recipients have an “earned degree” for no work whatsoever. LCU’s accrediting body (ACI) is not recognized by the Secretary or any other entity named in the law.
Let me be clear, LCU students do attend classes (3 hours/week). However, it would take about 12 years to get a degree at an accredited school while it only takes them 4 years and less if the degree is earned online. The PhD degrees to the distinguished degree holders are the main indicator of a diploma mill. These are given to people who don’t even attend the school.
For more on LCU, read these posts.
UPDATE: The state of Missouri responded to my complaint about Joyce Meyer’s fraudulent LCU degree. She has since started calling it an honorary degree.
Today, Eric Metaxas published an article at CNSNews talking up Christian colleges. The major talking point is that Christian colleges are well rounded while secular schools are one-dimensional. Actually, in the article, he reported the views of NY Times columnist David Brooks. Speaking of Ivy League students, Brooks says:
“They’ve been raised in a culture,” Brooks says, “that encourages them to pay attention to the résumé virtues of how to have a great career but leaves by the wayside … time to think about the eulogy virtues: the things they’ll say about you after you’re dead. They go through their school with the mixture of complete self-confidence and utter terror, afraid of a single false step off the achievement machine.” It’s flat, lifeless, and soul-killing.
But Christian schools attempt to educate their charges in three dimensions. Brooks told Christian college leaders that Christian universities “are the avant-garde of 21st century culture.” Christian colleges “have a way of talking about and educating the human person in a way that integrates faith, emotion and intellect. [They] have a recipe to nurture human beings who have a devoted heart, a courageous mind and a purposeful soul. Almost no other set of institutions in American society has that, and everyone wants it.”
I can’t agree or disagree with Brooks about Ivy League students, but I can say he is close to the mark on the place where I teach.
It interests me that Metaxas resonates with Brooks observations. Recently on Twitter, Metaxas has blocked several Christian college professors who have publicly expressed concerns with his newest book, as well as his support for Donald Trump. To David Brooks observations, I would add that several of the Christian colleges that I know well are not intimidated by the celebrity culture which marks evangelical Christianity. We encourage students to question the status quo both in and outside the church.
Over the past couple of months, Metaxas has blocked Messiah College history prof John Fea, Oklahoma Baptist University English prof Alan Noble (recently unblocked), Tyndale University College Philosophy prof Paul Franks and me. There are others but these are the ones who came to mind. It isn’t a major thing to be blocked and my point isn’t to gripe about that. My point is that in addition to the virtues identified by Brooks, many profs at Christian colleges seek the truth wherever it leads, even when that upsets a few big name apple carts.
Religious colleges can request an exemption from Title IX which forbids sex discrimination in colleges accepting federal funds or students who pay tuition with federal grants. Exemptions often relate to policies concerning sexual orientation or gender identity. A recent legislative effort in California (SB 1146) would have required exempt religious colleges which accept students with CA student aid to conform to most conditions of the state’s anti-discrimination statute. The bill also gave students who believe they have been discriminated against a right to sue a college on that basis. In response, religious colleges and other groups (e.g., the Southern Baptist’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission) opposed the bill because their representatives believed they would have to alter critical elements of their program in violation of their religious views.
Last week, the author of the bill, Rep. Lara (D-Bell Gardens) promised to remove the language allowing lawsuits and requiring conformity to CA’s anti-discrimination statute. Now the bill requires little more than disclosure of the exemption and any actions taken against students allowed by the exemption. Late yesterday, the new language was posted on Assembly’s website:
SECTION 1. Section 66290.1 is added to the Education Code, to read:
66290.1. (a) Each postsecondary educational institution in this state that claims an exemption pursuant to Section 901(a)(3) of the federal Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1681(a)(3)) or Section 66271 shall disclose to current and prospective students, faculty members, and employees the basis for claiming the exemption and the scope of the allowable activities provided by the exemption.
(b) The disclosure required in subdivision (a) shall be made in all of the following ways:
(1) The disclosure shall be displayed in a prominent location of the campus or school site. “Prominent location” means that location, or those locations, in the main administrative building or other area where notices regarding the institution’s rules, regulations, procedures, and standards of conduct are posted.
(2) The disclosure shall be included in written materials sent to prospective students seeking admission to the institution.
(3) The disclosure shall be provided as part of orientation programs conducted for new students at the beginning of each quarter, semester, or summer session, as applicable.
(4) The disclosure shall be provided to each faculty member, member of the administrative staff, and member of the support staff at the beginning of the first quarter or semester of each school year. The disclosure shall be provided to each new employee upon his or her hire.
(5) The disclosure shall be included in any publication of the institution that sets forth the comprehensive rules, regulations, procedures, and standards of conduct for the institution.
SEC. 2. Section 66290.2 is added to the Education Code, to read:
66290.2. (a) Each postsecondary educational institution in this state that claims an exemption pursuant to Section 901(a)(3) of the federal Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1681(a)(3)) or Section 66271 shall submit to the Student Aid Commission copies of all materials submitted to, and received from, a state or federal agency concerning the granting of the exemption.
(b) The Student Aid Commission shall collect the information received pursuant to subdivision (a) and post and maintain a list on the commission’s Internet Web site of the institutions that have claimed the exemption with their respective bases for claiming the exemption.
SEC. 3. Section 66290.3 is added to the Education Code, to read:
66290.3. Each postsecondary educational institution in this state that claims an exemption pursuant to Section 901(a)(3) of the federal Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1681(a)(3)) or Section 66271 shall submit a quarterly report to the Student Aid Commission that includes both of the following:
(a) A detailed explanation of the reason for each student suspension or expulsion that occurred during the preceding quarter, including on explanation of the policy the student violated and whether that policy is authorized under the exemption.
(b) Whether the student was a Cal Grant recipient.
SEC. 4. The provisions of this act are severable. If any provision of this act or its application is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.
I post this in order to promote awareness that the perceived threat to religious liberty has been addressed for now. I think everyone should be aware of these exemptions. Some students have gone to religious schools unaware that they could be expelled for coming out as gay. Students should know in advance what they are getting into. The last section will keep track of how many students are expelled.
A story that has been around awhile (since Barton’s 1989 book Myth of Separation) is his claim that Thomas Jefferson incorporated the Bible and Isaac Watts hymnal into the curriculum of the Washington D.C. schools while Jefferson was president. This claim has been thoroughly debunked before by others, notably Jim Allison and Chris Rodda. While those authors documented well their rebuttal to Barton, I like to consult the primary sources for myself. Here I lay out Barton’s claim followed by the truth.
Listen to Barton on Line of Fire:
When he became president of the United States, the Constitution authorizes that Washington, D.C. be run by the federal government, not by any state. So the schools of Washington, D.C. are under federal control. This is a new city when he moves in, he’s the president, he’s the first president to have a full term in the White House, everything else was in New York and Philadelphia, so he gets a full term, brand new city to him, he is now in charge of Washington, D.C. public schools as well. So he’s on the school board for Washington, D.C. public schools, they have to start the system, he authors the plan of education for Washington, D.C. public schools and he installs two reading texts for Washington, D.C. public schools, one is Isaac Watts hymnal, which is where we get the hymns like Joy to the World, etc., that’s what they learned to read from, and the Bible is the other one, and so Jefferson did that.
Barton refers to this story in The Jefferson Lies:
In 1805 President Jefferson was elected head of the board of trustees for the brand new Washington, DC, public schools. 51 He told the city council that he would “willingly undertake the duties proposed to me – so far as others of paramount obligation will permit my attention to them”; 52 that is, he would do what he could for the city schools with the caveat that his presidential duties came first. Robert Brent therefore served as head of the trustees instead of Jefferson; but as a trustee, Jefferson contributed much to the new school system. In fact, James Ormond Wilson, the first superintendent of the Washington, DC, public school system, affirmed that Jefferson was “the chief author of the first plan of public education adopted for the city of Washington.” 53 When the first report of the Washington public schools was prepared and released to document the progress of students, it announced:
Fifty-five have learned to read in the Old and New Testaments and are all able to spell words of three, four, and five syllables; twenty-six are now learning to read Dr. Watts’ Hymns and spell words of two syllables; ten are learning words of four and five letters. Of fifty-nine out of the whole number admitted [enrolled] that did not know a single letter, twenty can now read the Bible and spell words of three, four, and five syllables; twenty-nine read Dr. Watts’ Hymns and spell words of two syllables; and ten, words of four and five letters. 54
Most can probably visualize the Bible as a text to teach reading, 55 but what of Watt’s Hymns? Isaac Watts was a Christian theologian and hymn writer, penning some of the strongest doctrinal anthems in Christendom, including classics such as “Jesus Shall Reign,” “Joy to the World,” “O God our Help in Ages Past,” “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” “Am I a Soldier of the Cross,” “At the Cross,” and others. It was this hymnal, along with the Bible, that was used to teach reading to students in the school system whose plan of education was directly attributed to Thomas Jefferson.
Barton, David (2015-12-22). The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson (Kindle Locations 1813-1832). WND Books. Kindle Edition.
Jefferson was elected to the D.C. school board in 1805. He accepted in a letter to Robert Brent and at the time told Brent he would “willingly undertake the duties proposed to me, so far as others of paramount obligation will permit my attention to them.” In other words, being president had to come first. After this, Barton’s claims are mostly false.
Did Jefferson Write the Plan of Education for Washington, D.C. Schools?
Barton says in his book that Jefferson authored the plan of education. However, the source he cited doesn’t say that. About Jefferson’s involvement in the D.C. plan of education, Wilson (Barton’s own source) wrote:
A notably comprehensive report, setting forth in detail the plan of the entire educational system from an academy to a university, was prepared by a select committee and adopted September 19, 1805. Mr Jefferson’s early and liberal contribution in money and his accepting and holding the offices of trustee and president of the board of trustees of public schools so long as he resided here show his personal interest in their establishment, and the fact that he had several years earlier proposed a quite similar plan of education for the state of Virginia and a few years later, in 1817, vigorously renewed his proposal, make a strong probability that he himself was the chief author of the first plan of public education adopted for the city of Washington.
Barton’s quotation of Wilson is where the mischief is. In The Jefferson Lies, Barton wrote:
In fact, James Ormond Wilson, the first superintendent of the Washington, DC, public school system, affirmed that Jefferson was “the chief author of the first plan of public education adopted for the city of Washington.”
But look at what Wilson wrote and notice what Barton omitted in The Jefferson Lies. Wilson said Jefferson’s donations and his prior work on education in Virginia
make a strong probability that he himself was the chief author of the first plan of public education adopted for the city of Washington. (bold print is what Barton left out of his quote)
Wilson did not affirm that Jefferson wrote the plan, he guessed Jefferson authored it based on circumstantial evidence. We don’t know what Jefferson’s role was in writing the plan.
Did Jefferson Make Sure the Bible Was Used in D.C. Schools?
Even if Jefferson did write the plan with his own hand, it destroys Barton’s claim because Jefferson didn’t include Bible in it. Wilson’s history provides a description of the 1805 plan:
In their plan the board of trustees said:
The academy shall consist of as many schools as circumstances may require, to be limited at present to two, one of which shall be situated east of the Capitol and within half a mile of it and the other within half a mile of the President’s house, it being understood that these positions are considered by the board as temporary, and consequently subject at any future time to alteration. In these schools poor children shall be taught reading, writing, grammar, arithmetic, and such branches of the mathematics as may qualify them for the professions they are intended to follow, and they shall receive such other instruction as is given to pay pupils, as the board may from time to time direct, and pay pupils shall, besides, be instructed in geography and in the Latin language. The schools shall be open each day, Sundays excepted, eight hours in summer and six hours in winter, to be distributed throughout the day as shall be fixed by the board, except during vacation, which shall not commence prior to the first of August, nor continue after the 10th of September, and whose duration shall be fixed by the board. (emphasis added)
There is no mention of the Bible or a hymnal by Watts or anyone else.
So where does Barton get the idea that Jefferson incorporated the Bible and Watts’ hymnal?
A little later in his article, Wilson described some developments after Jefferson left office.
In 1812, the Washington schools switched their methods to allow a D.C. school to follow the approach of an educator named Joseph Lancaster. Then in 1813, a report of the progress under the new educational plan was submitted. Wilson provides the entire report; I will cite the part of it misused by Barton:
In 1813 Mr Henry Ould made the first report of a Washington public school of which we have any record.
It reads as follows : February 10, 1813.
This day 12 months ago I had the pleasure of opening under your auspices the second genuine Lancasterian school in America. The system was set in operation (as far as the nature of the room would admit) in this city on the 10th of February, 1812, in an inconvenient house opposite the General Post Office, but notwithstanding the smallness of the school-room there were 120 scholars entered on the list during the first three months. I was then under the necessity of delaying the admission of scholars, as the room would not accommodate more than 80 to 100 scholars. It now becomes my duty to lay before you an account of the improvement of the scholars placed under my direction in your institution, which I shall do in the following order:
130 scholars have been admitted into your institution since the 10th of February, 1812, viz., 82 males and 48 females, out of which number 2 have died and 37 left the school for various employments, after passing through several grades of the school, which therefore leaves 91 on the list.
PROGRESS IN READING AND SPELLING
55 have learned to read in the Old and New Testaments, and are all able to spell words of three, four, and five syllables; 26 are now learning to read Dr Watts’ Hymns and spell words of two syllables; 10 are learning words of four and five letters. Of 59 out of the whole number admitted that did not know a single letter, 20 can now read the Bible and spell words of three, four, and five syllables; 29 read Dr Watts’ Hymns and spell words of two syllables, and 10, words of four and five letters.
Thomas Jefferson left the presidency in 1809 and retired to Monticello, no longer president or a member of the D.C. school board. This 1813 report summarized the work of one school which was implemented in 1812. Barton gets his claim that Jefferson included the Bible and Watts’ hymnal in his plan from a report about another plan implemented in one school and submitted nearly four years after he left town.
Barton’s mash up of the facts is clearly wrong and has been since 1989.
What Did Jefferson Say About the Bible in Schools?
Joseph Lancaster believed in using the Bible as a reading book. Thomas Jefferson on the other hand did not. In Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, he directly addressed the use of the Bible in schools:
The first stage of this education being the schools of the hundreds, wherein the great mass of the people will receive their instruction the principal foundations of future order will be laid here. Instead therefore of putting the Bible and Testament into the hands of the children at an age when their judgments are not sufficiently matured for religious enquiries, their memories may here be stored with the most useful facts from Grecian, Roman, European, and American history. — The first elements of morality too may be instilled into their minds such as when further developed as their judgments advance in strength may teach them how to work out their own greatest happiness by showing them that it does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed them but is always the result of a good conscience good health occupation and freedom in all just pursuits. Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 154. (emphasis added)
In sum, David Barton claims Thomas Jefferson wrote a plan of education for the Washington, D.C. schools which included instruction in reading from the Bible and a hymn book. The very source Barton cites as evidence debunks these claims and demonstrates that Barton is willing to mash up the facts to get a story useful for his overall narrative about Thomas Jefferson.
For so many reasons, I am glad I don’t teach at Liberty University.
I can’t embed the clip so click through to watch Liberty University president Jerry Falwell, Jr. encourage students to carry guns on campus. He also seems to challenge “Muslims” (I assume he means radical Muslim terrorists) to come visit Liberty, and not for a college tour. I have no problem with self-defense but this seems like an irresponsible challenge to people who are capable of responding to it. As a college president, your first duty is the safety and well-being of your students, not to go all John Wayne.
UPDATE (4/21/15): Apparently, the layoffs are now on hold at NNU. Oord will be able to teach in the summer while the school’s actions are under review.
The subtitle for Karl Giberson’s Daily Beast article on fired Northwest Nazarene professor Tom Oord sums it up:
A beloved professor forced from a Nazarene university this month is the latest casualty in a war that’s being waged against thinking evangelical Christians.
According to Giberson, Oord’s affirmation of evolution and “open theism” doomed him at the small Nazarene college. I suspect the school knew something about these beliefs before he came but he became too hot to handle.
It is a cool story: A public historian finds historically significant WWII posters in a drawer, probably untouched since they were first stored there in 1954.
Grove City College is displaying a newly found collection of WWII posters this week in the Pew Fine Arts building. Read the Tribune’s article about the find and the display.
I know I will be there. Check out some of the posters…
Now it gets serious. Textbooks written according to Texas’ curriculum standards are slated to be evaluated in public hearings amid criticism from liberal groups, according to Politco’s Stephanie Simon.
According to Simon:
Texas students may soon be reading in their history textbooks that the American system of democracy was inspired by Moses, segregated schools weren’t all that bad and taxes imposed for programs like Social Security haven’t measurably improved society.
Those passages are among dozens of biased, misleading or inaccurate lessons identified on Wednesday by a panel of scholars commissioned by a liberal advocacy group to analyze dozens of new history, geography and civics textbooks up for review by the state Board of Education.
Unfortunately, the process appears to be about winning a political battle rather than historical accuracy. Might be time for the coalition of Christian historians to get involved. I definitely plan to raise this issue at the Conference on Faith and History later this month at Pepperdine University.