CCE Given Three Years by Federal Committee on Accreditation
Committee Decision Not Unanimous
On December 12, 2013 the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) went before the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) to request that their recognition as an accrediting agency by the United States Department of Education (USDOE) be renewed.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that NACIQI voted to renew CCE's recognition for another three years with three members of the Committee voting against it.
NACIQI had previously met in December 2011 to consider the Council on Chiropractic Education’s (CCE) petition for renewal of recognition. The process of continuing the recognition of an existing agency is generally unremarkable, often requiring only 15 minutes or so of discussion. The proceeding involving CCE was anything but routine, with four hours of public comments, agency responses, and deliberations.
The Department of Education staff identified over 40 compliance issues back in 2011. Arthur J. Rothkopf, president emeritus of Lafayette College and vice chairman of NACIQI told CCE, “You’ve hit the jackpot on deficiencies,” noting that the problems enumerated by the department suggest a “sloppiness” in CCEs actions as an accreditor.
Since that time the CCE had been forging deeper alliances amongst the members of the Chiropractic Cartel including the addition of the International Chiropractors Association in an effort to present a united front at this month’s hearing.
According to the ICA, the CCE had expressed a “grave concern” regarding the hearing since the CCE has not shown that it represents the entire chiropractic profession and because it has neglected to address governance concerns. The governance concerns are reported to be shared by the CCE’s president Dr. Tom Benberg. So concerned are they in fact, that the CCE reached out to the ICA at the last minute to make unconfirmed promises that it will address the governance concerns and asked for the ICA’s help in supporting the CCE during the upcoming hearing.
The CCE’s concerns regarding governance must be significant since the current Staff Report recommends renewal of the CCE’s recognition for three years and did not list any ongoing issues or concerns. The governance concerns appear to be so blatant that bringing them up before the NACIQI committee during the hearing would have altered the outcome. So contentious were the weeks and days leading up to today's hearing that the President of the American Chiropractic Association, Keith Overland, threatend the opposition groups just prior to the hearings.
According to the current Staff Report the USDOE received 25 written comments with regard to the CCE’s renewal - primarily from practitioners. Of the written comments received, two were in support of the agency and 23 were in opposition to the agency. The comments in favor of the agency noted that the commenters supported the agency's current medically-based approach. Both commenters were practitioners, and one was a former member of a state board of chiropractic examiners.
The Staff Report further stated that the comments in opposition to the agency were primarily received from practitioners. They were based largely upon a long-standing philosophical disagreement within the chiropractic community and continue a pattern of oppositional comments that have been received by the Department each time the CCE has been reviewed for recognition over the years. This debate, the Staff Report says, centers largely on whether it is appropriate for chiropractors to dispense drugs or perform surgery. Generally, the oppositional commenters feel that CCE is moving the profession toward more medically-based training (and therefore practice) and strongly oppose that approach. The opposing comments generally centered around 1) the elimination of the term "subluxation" from the agency's standards; 2) the removal from the standards of the specification "without drugs or surgery" when describing chiropractic treatment; and 3) opposition to the Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine or equivalent degree.
The Staff report noted that:
"The CCE bylaws include that a committee duty is to encourage Council diversity and development. It is clear that there are diverse points of view in the chiropractic community. While it is not the Department’s responsibility to take sides in the ongoing philosophical discussion within the profession, the Department is concerned that the agency follows its policies and procedures. The agency is requested to provide additional information about its councilor selection processes and, in particular, how it satisfies the duty to encourage Council diversity, given the allegations of the complaints. In particular, the agency needs to indicate what criteria it uses in selecting from among the nominees individuals to serve on the Council."
Staff also noted that the CCE provided additional information addressing issues raised by third party commenters regarding the alleged removal of “subluxation” from the standards and the “medicalization” of chiropractic education. They stated: “While these issues are not relevant to the Criteria for Recognition, the information provided by the agency is helpful in shedding additional light on the long-standing dispute within the profession.”
The collective group of organizations known as the Chiropractic Summit, including the ICA, endorsed the CCE during the hearing.
Following the hearing, Steve Tullius DC, who along with Arno Burnier DC and their Movement for Chiropractic Quality and Intergity (MCQI) were instrumental in orchestrating the largest social media campaign in the history of chiropractic stated:
"Today saw the recognition of CCE for an additional 3 years. It was the most likely scenario and we were well aware of that probability. We showed up strong and spoke truth. Great statements are now a part of the public record and will be used to move forward, adapting to the outcome of today's events but not diverting from our ultimate objectives. I am most impressed by the courage, drive and determination of the many students that sacrificed much to be at the hearing today AS well as the 3 dissenting opinions on the NACIQI who did not feel CCE should be renewed."