There's something wrong with, well, everything, when the most prominent public college in the state decrees that it will still accept degrees from a high school that was just debunked as a diploma mill.
Over eight days ending last week, I enrolled at the InterAmerican Christian Academy, a "high school" that was really just an office in Doral, paid $399, passed five take-home tests, and received my diploma. To demonstrate the difficulty level of the exams, I had public school kids aged 8 through 13 complete the tests and I copied their work.
In reporting the story, I asked several local colleges if they had accepted diplomas and transcripts-- also offensively bogus-- from InterAmerican. Only one school confirmed that it had accepted InterAmerican alumni: Miami Dade College. The largest college in the country and recent host to President Obama had 88 former InterAmericans among its ranks.
Soon after the story ran, I got the following complaint from an MDC flack: "You kind of made us look dumb."
Since that wasn't my intent-- at the time-- I asked whether, now that the word was out on InterAmerican, MDC would stop accepting its diplomas.
A couple of days later, I got my answer in the form of a statement issued by spokesperson Tere Estorino:
"We are an open-door institution that accepts all students from high schools if they are listed in the Florida Department of Education (DOE) site... InterAmerican Christian Academy is listed on the FL DOE site, therefore, at this time we accept their students. All students must take a placement test and therefore will take college preparatory courses if necessary before they begin taking college courses."
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The problem with that, of course, is that by Florida law, the state does not regulate private school curriculum. The DOE will list on its site any school whose administrators file minimal start-up paperwork, and can't do anything even if its discovered to be a diploma mill.
There's one word for a system like that: broken.
But hey, make it work for you. If you're slogging through high school and planning on going to MDC anyway, save yourself some sweat and call (305)716-0909. We're betting InterAmerican's still churning out those diplomas.