Since taking office, Betsy DeVos has failed our students in ways both obvious and subtle. Everyone remembers her efforts to privatize public education, the time she called Historically Black Colleges and Universities “pioneers of school choice,” and the infamous “grizzly bears” justification for guns in schools, but DeVos has also implemented devastating policies and changes to the Department of Education that may have flown under your radar.
Despite widespread fraud, DeVos continues to support the for-profit college industry
In a hearing before the House Education committee, Rep. Susan Davis pointed to the backlog of 100,000 fraud complaints that have been filed with the DOE by student loan borrowers. “What proportion came from students who attended public schools?” Davis asked.
“I don’t know the breakdown,” DeVos said.
“I understand that about 1 percent are publics, and less than 1 percent from non-profits…That leaves a large percentage of for-profit students who are reporting. What do those numbers tell you?” Davis asked.
Despite the huge number of fraud complaints, DeVos has:
- Suspended two federal regulations that would increase protections for students who borrow to pay for what are often worthless degrees.
- Reduced loan forgiveness for students who were defrauded by for-profit colleges.
- Hobbled the DOE office charged with investigating for-profit college abuses.
DeVos’s Department of Education is failing to provide Public Service Loan Forgiveness
In a letter delivered to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Sens. Tim Kaine, D-VA, Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, Tammy Duckworth, D-IL and Maggie Hassan, D-NH, charge that the Department is “significantly and needlessly restricting access” to the so-called “temporary expanded public service loan forgiveness” program.
That measure was meant to be a fix to the popular, but challenged public service loan forgiveness program, which allows certain members of the military, classroom teachers and social workers, as well as other not-for-profit and government employees to have their federal loans scrubbed after 10 years of on-time payments.
Many public servants believed they were paying their way to debt relief only to discover they didn’t qualify for one technical reason or another — sometimes after they’d finished their decade of payments.
Women are less safe on college campuses thanks to DeVos’s attempts to reverse campus sexual assault protections
The numbers tell us that one in five women is sexually assaulted while in college (some reports even put the figures at more than one in four). They also tell us that 63% of sexual assaults — on and off campus– are not reported to the police.
And yet, this week, Betsy DeVos and Department of Education officials will host a series of “listening meetings” as part of an effort to reexamine, and perhaps begin to reverse, policies put in place by then-President Barack Obama (and championed by then-Vice President Joe Biden). These policies were designed to make it easier for victims to come forward and harder for colleges to mishandle reports of sexual violence on campus.
Obama pushed for accountability. He mandated that universities work to better address campus sexual assault so that school was a safer place for all students. Many fear, however, that DeVos will let schools return to practices that seem to favor the accused, including letting accusations stand without taking action and forcing victims to sign nondisclosure agreements.
More than 1,200 civil rights probes have been dropped since DeVos took office
A ProPublica analysis of data on more than 40,000 civil rights cases, obtained through multiple public records requests, shows a startling change. We found that, under Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the department has scuttled more than 1,200 civil rights investigations that were begun under the Obama administration and lasted at least six months. These cases, which investigated complaints of civil rights violations ranging from discriminatory discipline to sexual violence in school districts and colleges around the country, were closed without any findings of wrongdoing or corrective action, often due to insufficient evidence.
ProPublica also found that the Office for Civil Rights has become more lenient. Under Obama, 51 percent of cases that took more than 180 days culminated in findings of civil rights violations, or corrective changes. Under the Trump administration, that rate has dropped to 35 percent.
Outcomes on specific topics reflect this pattern. For instance, 70 percent of complaints of discrimination against students with limited proficiency in the English language were upheld under Obama, compared to 52 percent under the current administration. The proportion of complaints substantiated regarding the individualized educational needs of students with disabilities has dropped from 45 percent to 34 percent; regarding sexual harassment and violence, from 41 percent to 31 percent; and regarding racial harassment, from 31 percent to 21 percent.