Education News

Betsy DeVos’ 6 worst moves of 2019

By Amanda Menas

In 2019, educators across the country stood up for their students, their schools, and their communities, to call out the funding cuts and harmful legislation proposed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. 

Betsy DeVos has a long history of turning her back on public schools. As secretary of education with the backing of President Trump, DeVos has proposed schemes to privatize public schools through vouchers, called for deep cuts to federal education funding, rolled back protections for vulnerable children, and shilled for the for-profit college industry that has defrauded countless students. 

Throughout 2019, she continued to prove that she was a disastrous choice for education secretary, just as public school supporters knew she would be.

Educators and allies will continue to speak out against Sec. DeVos and her anti-public education agenda. Here are the worst moves she made in 2019:

1. Secretary DeVos failed to enforce the civil rights of all students

Nearly half of all LGBTQ+ students live in states where they are not protected from discrimination or bullying. They could turn to federal legislation, but Betsy DeVos stripped their Title IX protections and refused to discuss the high rates of suicide among transgender students.

DeVos’s changes to Title IX protections have a chilling effect on students’ interests in filing complaints, which are already underreported, and harms the capacity of those students to have a healthy learning environment. Only 1.8 percent of students who file complaints today see any action. Prior to 2016, 15.6 percent of students could expect a change to occur if they sought to report harassment or discrimination. NEA President Lily Eskelsen García says Secretary DeVos’ changes “deny schools the flexibility and incentives to prevent and address harassment early in age-appropriate ways.”

2. DeVos swipes at public school educators

At the 72nd Education Writers Association Conference in Baltimore, DeVos took potshots at educators while she talked up her anti-public education agenda. She also accused educators of “hurting kids” when they marched for investments to improve schools and admonished educators for rallying behind the #RedforEd banner around the country, saying they should have “adult disagreements on adult time.”

Later in the year, during a visit to a South Carolina pharmaceuticals plant, to promote workforce development, DeVos fails to acknowledge that the 650 educators employed there had taken on a second job to make ends meet. South Carolina ranks 40th in the nation in educator pay and the many educators who take on second and even third jobs to stay afloat helped fuel the #RedforEd protests in Columbia in May.

3. DeVos proposed massive cuts to the Dept. of Ed

The Trump Administration budget, with the full support of education secretary Betsy DeVos, zeroed out the community schools program for FY20, while requesting more than $40 million for charter schools. It proposed to cut $5 billion from public schools, eliminate the Unified Champion Schools program, and cut the Department of Education budget by 10 percent. DeVos took it even further, asking for no increases in the tragically underfunded Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). She failed to justify her claim that “students may be better served by being in larger classes.” And, pressed by Rep. Jahana Hayes, a former National Teacher of the Year, she declined to say that she would prevent the use of federal education money to arm and train teachers.

4. DeVos increased inequity in special education

Starting with her proposal to cut funding for the Special Olympics and Unified Champion Schools program, which creates opportunities for students with and without intellectual disabilities to play sports together at school, DeVos took every action she could to harm students in need of extra support. Early in the year, she delayed an Obama-era rule that protects minority students in special education. A judge ruled against the secretary’s proposal, calling her attempted delay “arbitrary and capricious.”

5. DeVos pushes to expand federal vouchers

DeVos has a brazen scheme to invest $50 billion in private school vouchers over the next 10 years. But support for her voucher bill faded quickly. During a meeting with educators, she claimed that tax credit programs such as her $5 billion “Education Freedom Scholarship” proposal are not voucher plans and that the proposal “is not going to take anything away from anyone or anywhere.” That is simply false. Tax credit vouchers will drain public funding from public schools. Later, she teamed up with Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to President Trump, to rally support for the scholarship, which would cut from public schools to fund private and religious schools. “Betsy DeVos and Kellyanne Conway are probably the two least-qualified people in America to talk about how to best help students succeed,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García.

6. DeVos attempts to roll back protections for online students

Educators have pushed back at every step DeVos has taken against their students. In May, NEA and the California Teachers Association won a lawsuit against DeVos. The ruling required her to implement much-needed protections for U.S. students in online college programs. In October, she was held in contempt of court for violating an earlier order to stop collecting loan payments from students defrauded by for-profit college conglomerate Corinthian Colleges, Inc. 

10 responses to “Betsy DeVos’ 6 worst moves of 2019

  1. Im from Michigan we are well aware of The DeVoss family and their Amway fortune. Betsy DeVoss is a down right callous and greedy person.She is about as qualified to run the Department of Education as Daffy Duck is qualified to be President of Warner brothers.studios.Not to insult Daffy Duck,WB studios or the millions of fans globally speaking. I would love to be the judge to send her to jail!

  2. I truly suspect that she is antagonizing the teachers so they will leave and she will have reason to establish charter schools. She is scheming. trump will probably have a percentage of the school income long after he’s out of office.

  3. Public education has been under attack since NCLB. That government is no longer taught at public schools is a shame. That reading has been reduced to a single community read is a shame. Neither trump nor de vos is literate.

    I taught at three colleges here in Massachusetts, the state that supposedly leads the nation in education. I was horrified to discover that my students did not realize the books assigned to them were non-fiction. They simply call all paperback books, “novels.” When I taught a section of English 102 entitled, “Writing about Religion and Politics in America,” I asked through an anonymous survey, if they could identify a list of words including editorial. Only two in that section could. One was the nephew of a state representative and the other was determined to become a lawyer.

    I am putting together a curriculum for teaching American history and am sending it to the MA Dept. of Education in the hope of it being adopted.

  4. DeVos should be sued for how she has handled education and special education. She has no educational background or administrative training in education and has done nothing but destroy education. Trump has deliberately chosen people who he knows will axe the program they are in charge of as he continues to deconstruct the nation. No holds back or forgiven for this greedy, wealthy grifter. It will take years to rebuild what she has destroyed. This is not Christian behavior DeVos.

  5. An unqualified Cabinet Secretary serving under an unqualified President. We are better than Betsy De Dos and Trump. And there are more of us. Teachers will fight for the working conditions we need and the learning conditions our students deserve.

  6. DeVos is a scheming greedy woman who is unqualified to improve education. Leave it to Trump to find the worst appointee who will suck our public schools dry. Her support of private school increases the odds of public school failure. Schools should not be about profit.

  7. If this continues education will become only for the rich. The rest of the country will continue to fall further behind and more into poverty. Teachers included. Even working more than two thirds of my life as an educator has not provided me with enough to live on for the rest of my life. I hope that the future of public education does not become obsolete because of a lack of support by the Republican party idiots.

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