WASHINGTON, D.C.—Secretary of Education Rod Paige has pledged to work with Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) to crack down on the widespread use of diploma mill degrees.
“Secretary Paige shares my view that diploma mill degrees threaten to devalue the legitimate education credentials of millions of Americans,” said Senator Collins. “We agree that the first step toward squarely confronting this problem is to sit down in one room with the federal and state agencies that have been working on this issue to map out a coherent strategy.”
In July, Senator Collins urged Paige to consider creating a definitive list of diploma mill organizations, since a convenient and reliable means for determining which unaccredited institutions might be diploma mills does not yet exist.
In response, Paige recognized the value of such a list but noted that it would be difficult for the Department of Education to develop. Instead, Paige pledged “to convene a meeting of officials from [Oregon, North Dakota, Illinois, and New Jersey], representatives of your office and of the Office of Personnel Management to discuss whether a federal response is appropriate and to help federal personnel managers identify fraudulent educational credentials.” Those states were chosen because they have enacted laws that seek to restrict the operation of diploma mills and the use of fraudulent credentials.
Senator Collins has been working for more than two years to expose the problems associated with diploma mill degrees. In July 2003, Senator Collins asked the General Accounting Office (GAO) to investigate the use of “diploma mill” degrees to obtain positions and promotions with the federal government and whether those degrees were paid for with federal funds.
Senator Collins will determine whether to hold hearings on the issue once the GAO has reported its findings.