Note to Life Christian University: Use of False or Misleading Degrees is Illegal in Some States

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 394.700  Prohibition; 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.

A Problem I See with the DOE/DOJ Guidance on Transgender Students

At the outset, let me be clear that I believe transgender students should not be discriminated against when it comes to public accommodations. I have no problem with the Obama administration issuing guidance to schools about how the Departments of Justice and Education interpret the law regarding sex discrimination. While I don’t agree with all aspects of the DOJ/DOE documents (more on that below), I think schools benefit from knowledge of how the Departments interpret the law.
The guidance isn’t new law.*  The May 13 letter says:

ED and DOJ (the Departments) have determined that this letter is significant guidance. This guidance does not add requirements to applicable law, but provides information and examples to inform recipients about how the Departments evaluate whether covered entities are complying with their legal obligations.

While I don’t object to equal treatment under the law for transgender students, I question the DOE/DOJ on their interpretation of how a student should be regarded as transgender. According to the DOE/DOJ, no professional assessment of the student is required.

The Departments interpret Title IX to require that when a student or the student’s parent or guardian, as appropriate, notifies the school administration that the student will assert a gender identity that differs from previous representations or records, the school will begin treating the student consistent with the student’s gender identity. Under Title IX, there is no medical diagnosis or treatment requirement that students must meet as a prerequisite to being treated consistent with their gender identity.6  Because transgender students often are unable to obtain identification documents that reflect their gender identity (e.g., due to restrictions imposed by state or local law in their place of birth or residence),7 requiring students to produce such identification documents in order to treat them consistent with their gender identity may violate Title IX when doing so has the practical effect of limiting or denying students equal access to an educational program or activity.

All that is required for schools to treat students in keeping with their asserted gender identity is a student’s word (presumably for adult students) or a parent’s word (presumably for minors).
In my experience, parents often disagree over what is best for children. What is a school to do when one parent asserts a change in gender identity and the other doesn’t? In my clinical experience, I have seen just such cases. For instance, some parents interpret gender non-conforming interests as a signal that a child’s gender identity is different than what was assigned at birth. Such interpretation may not be in the child’s interest.
Evaluating the broad spectrum of children where gender identity is an issue often requires professional assistance. Particularly when children and teens are involved, getting competent help can be key in coming up with the best course of action in keeping with professional guidelines. To me, it makes sense for schools to require a supportive statement from a treating physician and mental health professional.
What is the basis for the DOE/DOJ claim?
As an authority (footnote #6) for the contention that schools can’t require a diagnosis, the DOE/DOJ letter uses a case of a transgender female employed by the Army who won an EEOC complaint alleging a civil rights violation in part because she was not allowed to use a common women’s bathroom. The Army’s defense involved a concern that the complainant had not fully physically transitioned from male to female. The EEOC ruled that an employer cannot require a medical procedure in order to deny civil rights to a transgender employee.
However, in that case, the complainant had legally changed her records and was legally female. While she had not had surgical reassignment, she had made significant steps toward transition. The facts of the case involve an adult and are much different than a school where a parent or student may not have consulted a professional.
Of course, students should not have to prove full reassignment to be treated fairly, but it seems to me that schools would be within their rights to require evidence from mental health professionals and physicians that accommodation would be appropriate. Schools regularly require professionals to provide opinions on lesser matters.
When the DOE/DOJ says “there is no medical diagnosis or treatment requirement that students must meet as a prerequisite to being treated consistent with their gender identity,” I think they go beyond the facts of the case they used as a basis for their interpretation. Perhaps there are other relevant cases, but the letter doesn’t list them.
Schools should be safe for all students, including transgender students. My concern is that this guidance will hamper schools in reacting for the good of all students on a case by case basis.
*When I first posted this article, I wrote that the DOE/DOJ letter wasn’t an edict. While I still don’t see it as heavy handed as some opponents do, I will concede that some school districts may experience it negatively. Furthermore, I removed that reference because I don’t want to distract from the main point of the post.

Glenn Beck Wants $20 to Tell You What You Can Find Out Free

Mr. Beck is certainly a showman, and he has a big show planned for July 22, 2014.
We Will Not Conform is a live telecast to movie theaters around the country on the evils of common core educational standards. Despite being championed initially by conservatives like Mike Huckabee, Common Core has become associated with nearly everything evil, thanks, more often than not, to Mr. Huckabee’s allies in the conservative camp.
In this Hannity segment (click for video), Beck describes the upcoming event. According to Beck on Hannity’s show, common core is about control and manipulation and making money. As an aside, with a $20 ticket price, Beck’s effort to fight against common core seems to be about making money. In contrast to Beck’s claim, Huckabee says that the common core conservatives love to hate is not what the creators of common core had in mind. Huckabee said in February:

I’m convinced that the term Common Core needs to disappear from the lexicon of education policy. It’s a toxic term because it’s come to mean things that most of us can’t stomach, like top-down federal intrusion into the local schools where you live. But Common Core as it was designed had nothing to do with the federal government. It was conceived and controlled by elected governors and state school chiefs to keep the federal hands from interfering. It only dealt with 2 subjects, math and English, and in those 2 subjects, established only state-initiated standards in those subjects, and intentionally did not write or even suggest curriculum. It set voluntary goals—VOLUNTARY goals—controlled by local school boards. Unfortunately, the locally controlled and very simple creation of standards in math and English, created so that students would be measured by comparable regardless of geography has been hijacked by those who took the label Common Core and applied it to curriculum, subjects other than math and English, and even unrelated things as personal data collection. As a result, Common Core as a brand is dead and hopefully the perversions of it will die as well.

Thus, Beck’s (and David Barton’s) use of the label common core only adds to the confusion. I imagine Beck’s cadre of faux experts will scare people about public schools, but don’t expect to come out of the event enlightened. Beck’s misuse of history, and of course David Barton’s many documented historical misadventures disqualify them right off the bat. If you want to get scared about education, just go on You Tube and look up common core. You’ll be just as confused but it won’t cost you $20.

Underneath it all, there is more to this than opposition to standards, and questionable claims about making all kids the same.

David Barton: Half Of Students In Christian Colleges Leave Church Due To Pagan Professors

During what is listed as Thursday’s broadcast on Kenneth Copeland’s Believer’s Voice of Victory program, David Barton said at 10:48 into the clip:

Those in authority include those in our education system, for example, in our universities. Last Friday, when we pointed out about education, now between 71-88% of our Christian kids who go to college are renouncing their faith at college, and that over 50% of our Christian kids who go to Christian colleges are renouncing their faith at Christian colleges because the professors in the Christian colleges were trained by the pagans in the secular colleges, and Jesus tells us in Luke 6:40 that every student when he is fully trained will be just like his teacher. So those Christian professors, “Christian” professors, are trained by those pagans and they think like the pagans. They’re living in Egypt and they think they’re Egyptians instead of Hebrews.

David Barton – Sunday Evening from Westside Church on Vimeo.

Barton recently told Westside Church in Omaha, NE the same thing (at 7:00 into this clip):

Right now between 71-88% of Christian youth raised in Christian homes, 71 to 88% of those kids with deny their faith in four years at the university. That is the most hostile place in America right now for Christian faith…The good news is that while we lose 71-88%  of kids to secular campuses, we do at least have Christian campuses we can send our kids to, and at Christian campuses only 50% of Christian kids deny their faith at Christian campuses. Woah, what’s going on here? Jesus told us what’s going on here. If you go back to what Jesus said in Luke 6, chapter 6 verse 40, Jesus said, every student when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. What happens is that so many of the professors we have in Christian university were trained by the pagans at other universities, they just happen to be a new pagan trained at a Christian university. I mean it’s extremely hostile now, even at Christian universities.

I was unable to find the exact percentages Barton cited regarded students at state schools, and I could find nothing regarding his claim about Christian colleges. Some survey may exist with these results but I have been unable as yet to find it (and of course, I am glad to have a look at any surveys which support Barton’s claim).  I assume he is referring to the work of the Barna Group which surveyed students between 2007 and 2011 regarding their relationship to the church while in college.

However, Barna’s conclusions are not the same as Barton’s. The situation is much more complex than is portrayed by Barton.

According to Barna’s website, the reality is that many students who stop attending church don’t actually leave the faith.  Barna’s David Kinnaman said:

The reality of the dropout problem is not about a huge exodus of young people from the Christian faith. In fact, it is about the various ways that young people become disconnected in their spiritual journey. Church leaders and parents cannot effectively help the next generation in their spiritual development without understanding these three primary patterns. The conclusion from the research is that most young people with a Christian background are dropping out of conventional church involvement, not losing their faith.

In fact, young adults often feel disillusioned with the institutional church even as they maintain a belief in God. According to Kinnaman’s earlier book unChristian, many young people distance themselves from the church because of what they perceive to be hypocrisy in the church, and not due to the influence of their so-called “pagan professors. (an example here)”

In fact, Barna says it is a myth that “college experiences are the key factor that cause people to drop out.” If anything, college experience expose problems already in place rather than create them. According to Kinnaman’s survey, there are six reasons why this generation is leaving the church:

  1. Churches seem overprotective.
  2. Teens’ and 20-somethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.
  3. Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
  4. Church attitudes toward sexuality are often simplistic and judgmental.
  5. Christianity seems exclusive, which they wrestle with.
  6. The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.

Since Christian academics have become more vocal about their concerns over his history, Barton has become more critical of Christian professors as a group. Rather than stick to the issues, Barton has gone on the offensive by slamming Christian scholars and devaluing their faith and their dedication to Christian vocation.  Now, contrary to evidence, he accuses us of contributing to the religious demise of half of our students.

I hope this effort becomes clear for what it is.