As kids head back to school for the 2017-2018 school year, the Democratic National Committee is issuing an unusual memo listing 29 ways that it says Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is harming public education.
Titled “Back to School: The Many Ways Secretary DeVos Has Hurt Students, Teachers and Parents,” the memo says DeVos and President Trump have moved to promote their agenda of school choice, or alternatives to public education, by, among other things, proposing big cuts in the Education Department’s budget that would eliminate child care as well as special education and teacher training programs, and rolling back civil rights protections and investigations at schools.
It’s no surprise that Democrats would oppose the DeVos and Trump education agenda, but it is the first time the committee has issued a memo blasting individual steps taken by an individual Trump Cabinet member.
Democrats in Congress have been at odds with the education secretary, repeatedly sending her and her appointees letters with concerns about her agenda.
On Tuesday, for example, Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) sent a letter to Julian Schmoke Jr., recently appointed by DeVos to lead the Department of Education’s Student Aid Enforcement Unit, seeking a meeting and raising concerns about his “lack of experience in consumer protection, litigation, and the management of investigations and attorneys.” It also cited his history at DeVry University, “a for-profit college company that last year paid a $100 million settlement to the Federal Trade Commission … for misleading students about the professional and financial outcomes that its graduates typically attained.”
These are the 29 things that the Democratic National Committee says Trump and DeVos have done so far that are hurting students, parents and schools:
*DeVos refused to promise that she would not cut funding for public schools.
*DeVos’s agenda lacked accountability standards for charter schools and for-profit charter school operators.
*DeVos praised Trump’s budget, which included devastating cuts to education spending.
*As it slashes funding for traditional public schools, Trump’s budget would take Title I school funding for disadvantaged students to bankroll a new school-choice program.
*Trump’s budget would eliminate after-school programs that serve 1.6 million children, primarily from low-income neighborhoods.
*Trump’s budget cut teacher training programs by $2.1 billion and funding for special education programs.
*Trump’s budget eliminated grant programs for groups educating native Hawaiian and Alaska native students.
*Trump’s budget eliminated a program providing on-campus child care for low-income parents pursuing a college degree.
*DeVos’s Education Department stopped approving new fraud claims against for-profit schools.
*DeVos allocated two spots on panels reviewing the borrower defense and gainful employment student loan rules specifically for representatives from the for-profit college sector.
*DeVos announced a new federal student aid oversight approach that advocates said encouraged fraud and abuse.
*DeVos eliminated a federal task force that helped crack down on abuses at for-profit colleges.
*DeVos terminated two agreements between the Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that were intended to combat student loan fraud.
*DeVos allowed for-profit colleges to continue using an accreditor that the Obama administration had shut down for lax oversight.
*DeVos reversed an Obama-era decision to withhold federal funds from Globe University, which was accused of defrauding its students.
*DeVos’s pick to lead the student aid enforcement unit at the Education Department had recently been at a school that was fined $100 million for misleading claims.
*DeVos’s Education Department announced they would delay two Obama-era rules aimed at reigning in for-profit colleges that defrauded or misled students.
*DeVos changed the gainful employment rule to make it easier for career training programs to contest allegations that they misled and failed to prepare students — and delayed implementation of the rule by a year.
*Trump’s budget eliminates loan forgiveness for public servants.
*Trump’s budget stops subsidizing interest on students’ loans.
*Trump’s budget eliminates loan programs that subsidize college education for low-income students, and nearly halves the work-study program.
*DeVos would not commit to withholding federal funding from private schools that discriminate.
*DeVos called HBCUs the “real pioneers” of school choice.
*DeVos supported Trump rolling back federal protections for transgender students.
*DeVos’s Education Department rapidly closed civil rights complaints and narrowed its focus in civil rights investigations.
*Trump’s budget slashes funding for the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights and does not dedicate any money for a fund supporting anti-bullying initiatives.
*DeVos defended meeting with “men’s rights” activists, college attorneys and students who claim they were wrongfully accused of sexual assault.
*The head of the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, Candice Jackson, is reportedly thinking about putting the 2011 campus sexual assault directive up for notice-and-comment, which could change Title IX rules.
*The Education Department is reportedly considering not publishing a list of colleges and universities under investigation for mishandling sexual assault claims.