Our Core Values
In its essence, an accreditation agency is a collection of individuals with credentials and experience specific to a profession taking upon themselves the responsibility of ensuring that people seeking to be recognized as active professional members of that profession have the necessary credentials to be so recognized. Different accrediting agencies have different tier structures, but they are alike in that at the top tier, this responsibility is an autonomous assumption of duty.
With this reasoning, the OpenLATCH Education Foundation assumes the right to accredit those educational institutions it sees as fully complying in both letter and spirit with the requirements laid forth by the core assessors in the OpenLATCH Education Foundation accrediting body, as long as OpenLATCH core assessors themselves have the profession-specific credentials and experience necessary to do so in good faith.
We believe that emerging college graduates do not have to be, and should not have to be, financially burdened with student debt. Under the faculty-school model, tuition can be adjusted so that the product (the collegiate education) is paid in full by the time the student needs to begin to use it in full. Therefore, the OpenLATCH Education Foundation maintains reservations against accrediting a faculty school that both requires more than 130 credits for a BA degree and charges more than a total of $15,000 for those credits (the individual monetary weights of a credit can be determined by the faculty group). An MA degree consisting of 35 to 40 credits in addition to the BA requirement should not charge more than an additional $8,000 beyond a BA degree. A PhD degree consisting of 65 credits in addition to the BA requirement should not charge more than an additional $12,000 beyond a BA degree. (These prices are adjusted every 5 years for inflation or deflation by using a national Cost of Living Index.)
Our insistence upon financial sustainability is the main reason OpenLATCH has decided against being officially recognized by the United States Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency. The first requirements of agencies so recognized is that they show that at least one of the institutions they accredit needs the accreditation status for participation for a federal loan program. By remaining unrecognized, we preclude the option of federal aid for our faculty colleges. This, in turn, strongly encourages the schools we accredit to accurately and fairly price the tuition.
First, faculty groups accredited by the OpenLATCH Education Foundation promote dynamic interaction by streamlining their lines of communication and decision. The elimination of all ancillary personnel and offices, along with the assumption of administration duties by the faculty themselves, creates an atmosphere in which concerns can be directly and immediately expressed between the involved parties, and action that seeks to address and remove those concerns can be quickly and authoritatively agreed upon. With this goal in mind, the OpenLATCH Education Foundation insists that one member of the faculty group become the groupís director, that all other faculty have direct access to the director, that students have direct access to their faculty and to the director, and that the director is empowered to make on-the-spot decisions under the oversight of the school's board.
Second, dynamic interaction is fostered between teacher and student to a unique extent during non-mediated person-to-person discussion. One's recognition of an immediate presence of another person heightens a sense of importance, concern, responsibility, and value for the other person that should be present in our relationships. For this reason, along with its other formats of coursework a faculty school offering undergraduate or graduate degrees/certificates must deliver at least half of its credits through land classes.
Many things can help teachers care about teaching. But few things can erode this care as quickly as a disconnect between the service a teacher renders and the perceived fairness of the amount of remuneration he or she receives for the service. Too little pay and the teacher may eventually feel that he or she has been exploited by the administration of the school, too much pay and the teacher may eventually feel that he or she is a partner in driving up tuition costs. These situations can produce for some an unhealthy reaction against being overworked or, for others, a deviant focus on gaining even higher salaries for the same work or less.
To counter this, faculty groups accredited by OpenLATCH must disclose a complete budget to any internal or external inquiry of a professional manner (this includes requests made by student groups or parents of students). At least 80% of the tuition gained by the school through coursework must go directly to the faculty member directing the coursework. Further, faculty groups must have in place mechanisms of payment that directly transfer tuition payments to the faculty member or the faculty-member's immediate supervisor (the director). This directness of payment will allow the student a better chance at a refund if the call for a refund is legitimate. It is harder to charge exorbitant prices, to demand an illicit refund, or to deny a legitimate one when all the parties involved are in direct and personal contact with each other.
Open Latch Education Foundation, a Non-Profit Organization
1242 North Wyngate Way, Maryville TN 37803