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When the little newspaper boy who lives in my email inbox suddenly appeared today and proclaimed loudly, “Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Cuesta’s Accreditation Reaffirmed!” I was too caught off guard by the attempted marketing of information literally a YEAR OLD and widely covered to remember to finally ask him why I cannot seem to recall a single time that the paper his kind were trying to sell was a normal, non-extra edition.

When I took a look at the paper in question, however, I realized that I was, in fact, incorrect—Cuesta WAS re-accredited one year ago, but after another evaluation team stopped by, that accreditation has been reaffirmed for a full six more years. Cuesta is making sure to pat itself well on the back for having made such substantial progress toward fixing what needed fixing, and well it should—the team went as far as to give Cuesta seven commendations (document-speak for “atta-boys”), impressed and pleased with the college’s hard work.

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With that said, after having given a good read to some of the involved documents, I cannot help but find certain humor in a dark, glossed-over undertone at play. Though Cuesta has done a great job picking itself up off of its feet, the letter of reaffirmation also notes that Cuesta is not completely in compliance yet, as its distance education (online courses and such) does not meet the quality of its non-distance education.

“Under U.S. Department of Education enforcement regulations, the Commission is required to take immediate action to terminate the accreditation of an institution which is out of compliance with any standard. In the alternative, the Commission can provide the institution with additional notice and a deadline for coming into compliance that is no later than two years from when the institution was first informed of the noncompliance. With [the letter of reaffirmation], Cuesta College is being provided with notice of the standards for which it is out of compliance and is being provided time to meet the standards.”

There’s a certain undeniable threat there to accompany the many words of praise that the letter does in fact give, and while I have confidence that Cuesta will do what needs to be done to make the improvements happen, it is not exactly out of the woods. On the whole, though, congratulations to the hard-working members of the Cuesta body, even a team meant to inspect you can be quoted to say you “should feel pride in [your] accomplishments.” As a side note, the proof of meeting standards for distance education is required in October of 2016, so a year from now might be a good time to sign up for online classes.

 

Intern Chris White-Sanborn tried reading all about it, so that you wouldn’t have to go to the trouble. Send collegiate news to cougarsandmustangs@newtimesslo.com.

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