March 2, 2018

Report Card on Betsy DeVos

Compiled by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Katherin Clark

Betsy DeVos ... became Education Secretary despite having absolutely no experience as a school teacher, school administrator, or public official, and despite her long record of bankrolling politicians and supporting policies that are damaging to public education. She had no record or experience related to the Education Department’s job of managing the $1 trillion federal student loan program. Her confirmation required an extremely rare tie-breaking vote by Vice President Pence, after a “cringeworthy” nomination hearing in which she was unable to demonstrate basic knowledge about education policy

Questionable Ethics and Conflicts of Interest. Secretary DeVos has taken actions that harm students and student loan borrowers while benefiting bad actors in the for-profit higher education and student loan sectors. These actions appear tainted by her own conflicts of interest (many of which likely remain undisclosed) and those of key personnel that she has hired – including her Senior Counselor and a former Special Assistant, who have personal ties to the main beneficiaries of her decisions.  

Favoring For-Profit Colleges over Students. She has taken numerous steps to limit, delay, and revoke regulations aimed at holding colleges accountable when they fail to keep their promises and protecting defrauded student loan borrowers. She has rolled back relief for students who were ripped off by shady for-profit colleges; she has exposed struggling loan borrowers to high collection fees; she has delayed rules ensuring that colleges that take federal student loan dollars are held accountable for student outcomes; and she has weakened oversight of predatory for-profit colleges while allowing bad actors to continue receiving federal student aid dollars. 

Weakening Public Education. The U.S. Secretary of Education should be a reliable champion of public schools. But fears of her lack of experience and disinterest in – or disdain for – public education have come to fruition . She has undermined key protections for public school students contained in the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act; she has proposed budgets that contain massive cuts for public education (and huge giveaways to private and religious schools); and she has spent her time in office meeting with school choice and privatization advocates, while largely ignoring the needs of public school students and teachers.  

Turning Back the Clock on Civil Rights Protections. A critical part of the Department’s mission is to provide equitable educational oppor - tunities for all students. But Secretary DeVos has done the opposite. She has curtailed protections for victims of sexual harassment and sexual violence; eliminated protections for transgender students; weakened protections for students of color; and weakened enforcement of civil rights protections by the Department’s Office for Civil Rights. 


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