Betsy DeVos

Ed Secretary Betsy DeVos Halts Collections Actions Against Student Loan Defaulters

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has directed the Federal Student Aid (FSA) office to halt collection actions and wage garnishments against students who have defaulted on their education loans. According to a press release, DeVos’s department will refund more than $1.8 billion to more than 830,000 students in default in order to provide assistance during the coronavirus crisis. DeVos said in a statement: ” These are difficult times for many Americans, and we don’t want to do anything that will make it harder for them to make ends meet or create additional stress. Americans counting on their tax refund or Social Security check to make ends meet during this national emergency should receive those funds, and our actions today will make sure they do.” The period of flexibility is retroactive from March 13, the date President Donald Trump declared a national emergency, and will continue for at least 60 days from that date. The education department has halted all requests to the U.S. Treasury to deny funds from defaulted borrowers’ federal income tax refunds, Social Security payments, and other “Treasury offsets.” DeVos has also instructed private collection agencies to stop their activities to obtain payments from student borrowers. Trump announced students with federal loans would automatically have their interest rates dialed back to 0 percent for a period of at least 60 days. Students may also suspend their loan payments for at least two months to allow greater flexibility during the emergency situation. Education department site studentaid.gov states: ” To provide relief to student loan borrowers during the COVID-19 national emergency, federal student loan borrowers can be placed in an administrative forbearance, which allows you to temporarily stop making your monthly loan payment.” Students and families with further questions about their federal student aid during school closures can visit the same site for assistance. Just click here:

 

Betsy DeVos Strikes a Blow for Religious Freedom

Last week, Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that the U.S. Department of Education will stop enforcing a provision in federal law that has long barred religious organizations from contracting with private schools to provide federally funded “equitable services,” like tutoring and professional development. In a letter to Congress, DeVos explained that she was acting in accord with the Supreme Court’s 2017 verdict in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer. In Trinity Lutheran, the Supreme Court ruled that the state of Missouri had engaged in unconstitutional discrimination by denying a church-run preschool access to a publicly funded program for playground improvement. Under the Constitution’s free-exercise clause, the Court found, otherwise eligible entities cannot be disqualified from a public benefit “based solely on their religious status.” In a press release accompanying her announcement, DeVos declared that, “Those seeking to provide high-quality educational services to students and teachers should not be discriminated against simply based on the religious character of their organization.” This is not a theoretical problem. To take but one example, up to now, parochial-school teachers could not attend a federally funded workshop at Catholic University. In that sense, DeVos’s policy change is long overdue. Indeed, the prohibition on religious providers was not some recent move by the Obama administration. Since its inception, the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was held to require that school districts must provide comparable services to educationally disadvantaged private-school students and educationally disadvantaged public-school students. Washington determined that those dollars could not flow directly to private schools, however, meaning that local districts had to provide the services or find a contractor to offer them. As implemented, federal law dictated that religious organizations were summarily barred from working as contractors with private schools — even when well suited for the work. But the ban on providers was remarkably inconsistent. Bizarrely, under the law, religious organizations have been permitted to provide services like after-school tutoring to public-school students, even as they’ve been barred from providing the same services to private-school students. The secretary’s decision corrects the government’s puzzling policy of intermittent religious discrimination. Predictably, some portrayed DeVos’s modest step to obey Supreme Court jurisprudence as part of a shadowy effort to entangle church and state. (“DeVos Moves to Ease Church-State Rules in Education,” one New York Times headline blared.) But the Department’s decision seems more aptly described as an effort to correct a kind of reflexive, anti-faith discrimination that had been in place for decades, under Democratic and Republican administrations alike. As Chief Justice Roberts wrote in his decision for the 7–2 majority in Trinity Lutheran, “There is no question that Trinity Lutheran was denied a grant simply because of what it is—a church.” DeVos is applying the same logic, consistently. There’s no need to overcomplicate this. If the prohibitions in question were being applied to religious organizations that had spent funds inappropriately or engaged in proselytizing while on the federal dime, that would be one thing. But the issue here is wholesale, categorical discrimination against organizations of faith, simply because they’re organizations of faith, when it comes to non-religious programs such as English tutoring and professional development for math instruction. Discrimination of that sort has no place in the American system, and DeVos was right in moving to stamp it out. The new policy has the potential to immediately benefit many of the millions of educationally disadvantaged students who attend private schools, and its significance will only grow if efforts to expand private-school choice continue to flourish. It didn’t spark the commentary or contention that have greeted so many of DeVos’s other actions, but it’s a sensible, overdue act of good stewardship and we ought not overlook it.

 

Thanks to both Frederick M. Hess and Brendan Bell for bringing this to our attention, and major kudos to Sec. of Education Betsy DeVos for making this happen!  This is a HUGE win not only for religious freedom, for the education of our kids.  Frederick M. Hess is the director of education-policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. Brendan Bell is the education-policy program manager at AEI.    🙂

Betsy DeVos: States should consider letting teachers carry guns in classroom

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says that states and localities seeking to protect schools against shooters should consider allowing teachers to carry firearms in the classroom. Arming teachers “should be an option for states and communities to consider,” Ms. DeVos told CBS-TV’s “60 Minutes” in an interview airing Sunday night. She acknowledged that some educators have neither the interest nor the training to carry firearms, “but for those who are capable, this is one solution that can and should be considered … every state and every community is going to address this issue in a different way,” she said. Her comments came after President Trump suggested states consider allowing highly trained school personnel to carry guns in the classroom in response to the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 dead. The Wall Street Journal reported that the White House would release a plan Sunday recommending states allow concealed carry for school staffers and raise the gun-buying age for certain firearms. Nineteen states already allow firearms in K-12 schools as long as the owner has permission from school authorities, while another five states permit any concealed-carry holder to bring weapons to schools, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. “There are a lot of states that are addressing these issues in very cohesive and coherent ways,” said Ms. DeVos. The education secretary’s stance pits her once again against teachers’ union officials, who have argued that increasing the number of firearms makes schools less safe and advocated for tougher gun laws. Ms. DeVos also stressed the importance of taking action on school safety. “There is a sense of urgency indeed,” she said.

Indeed..

French: Betsy DeVos’s Critics Rely on Junk Science and Sheer Malice

Honestly, even for a person who’s been hardened by decades of campus ideological and legal battles, it’s hard to believe how thoroughly unhinged, how intellectually bankrupt is the argument against protecting due process on campus. Yesterday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that the Trump administration would shortly begin a regulatory rulemaking process designed to protect college students from sexual assault while also protecting the fundamental constitutional rights of the accused. More precisely, DeVos signaled her intention to withdraw the Obama administration’s 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter that unilaterally and lawlessly required universities to adjudicate sexual-assault claims under a preponderance-of-the-evidence standard (the accused is responsible if there’s a 50.1 percent probability he committed the crime) but without protecting due process. Obama’s policy resulted in a kangaroo-court system where accused students often don’t have access to counsel, the ability to effectively cross-examine their accuser (indeed, the Obama admin specifically urged that accused students not be permitted to cross-examine accusers), or even access to all the evidence in the case. Judging from the Twitter reaction to DeVos’s remarks, you would have thought that she’d declared open season on young women on campus. Under the hashtag #StopBetsy, ideologues and celebrities declared that DeVos was taking the “next step on our path to authoritarianism.” Or, in the words of the reasonable non-hysterical folks at the Women’s March, she was “making campuses safer for rapists.” The makers of a deeply flawed campus-rape documentary called “The Hunting Ground” slammed DeVos, saying, “Her proposal should scare the hell out of every parent in this country with a college bound child — schools will become much more dangerous places for their children.” But what is this terrible proposal? While the details are yet to be revealed, from her remarks it’s clear that she wants to protect students from sexual assault and to protect students from kangaroo courts. In other words, she may well require schools to protect students’ ability to employ counsel, cross-examine witnesses, see the evidence against them, and try their cases before a truly impartial tribunal. This is basic stuff. It’s the essence of due process, and it’s unthinkable for any person facing such serious, state-mandated charges to face justice without these basic protections. So, what’s the objection? Why do some activists seemingly come unglued at the mere mention of “due process”? To put it simply, it’s because many of them believe and propagate a pile of junk science seasoned with a heaping helping of far-left ideology. This toxic combination causes them to believe the following fantastical story: That one in five women on campus will be sexually assaulted at some point in their college careers, that virtually no woman would lie or be mistaken in alleging a sexual assault, and that even the absence of evidence is somehow evidence of rape. In these circumstances, due process is at best a mere formality. At worst, it’s the rapist’s friend. But that story is wrong — terribly wrong — and it’s facilitating injustice on a national scale. First, the one-in-five statistic is based on seriously flawed studies that, among other things, improperly define sexual assault or base their findings on a low-response survey of two colleges. In fact, the authors of arguably the most influential source for the one-in-five statistic have explicitly said that it was “inappropriate” to use their survey as a “baseline” for campus rape. In 2014, the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics released its own, more rigorous survey, and its results were far, far different. It found that the rate of rape and sexual assault was “higher for nonstudents than for students.” The annual rate of sexual assault for young women enrolled in college was 6.1 per 1,000, or less than 1 percent. Too high, but far from the extraordinary and shocking crisis of one-in-five, even when tallied over multiple years. But what about the notion that “women don’t lie about rape,” often memorialized in the #BelieveAllWomen hashtag — popularized by none other than Hillary Clinton herself? That’s based on flawed research as well.

Indeed..  To read the rest of this eye-opening, and excellent legal op/ed by attorney, and Army Reserve officer (Major), David French, click on the text above.  David was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in Iraq.

DeVos dedicated to empowering local schools against federal bureaucracy

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos insists that everything she does at the department is aimed at getting the federal government out of local schools, making good on that populist campaign promise from President Trump while his big-ticket legislative goals remain mired in Congress. Whether it’s replacing Obama-era school dictates with flexible guidelines or boosting school choice programs in districts across the country, the federal footprint in education is shrinking, Mrs. DeVos said. Washington’s education establishment is not happy with the change of course. Teachers unions and liberal activists decry the retreat and accuse the Trump administration of leaving children and college students at the mercy of for-profit schools. But breaking apart the “government-run education monopoly,” as Mr. Trump described it during the presidential race, was precisely why he chose Mrs. DeVos. She is a longtime crusader for charter schools and voucher programs that allow federal funds to pay tuition at private and religious schools. “If my work in education over the last three decades has taught me anything, it’s that parents and local leaders — not Washington bureaucrats — know best. As secretary, everything I do is focused on empowering them and getting the federal government out of their way,” Mrs. DeVos said..

Excellent!  To read the rest of this article, click on the text above.    🙂

Trump Directs DeVos to Enforce Local Control of Education

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday that directed U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to review federal regulations that infringe upon state and local governments’ ability to enact education policy at the level closest to the American people. “The executive order I’m signing today is another critical step to restoring local control, which is so important,” Trump said in his remarks at the signing of the Education Federalism Executive Order. “This executive order directs Secretary DeVos to review current federal regulations and ensure that they don’t obstruct the ability of states, local governments, teachers, and most importantly, parents, to make the best decisions for their students and, in many cases, for their children.” The order states the education secretary “shall, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, rescind or revise” any regulations or guidance documents “that are identified…as inconsistent with statutory prohibitions.” The secretary has 300 days to perform the review of regulations. The President continued: ” Previous administrations have wrongfully forced states and schools to comply with federal whims and dictate what our kids are taught. But we know that local communities do it best and know it best. The time has come to empower parents and teachers to make the decisions that help their students achieve success. That’s what this executive order is all about. So important.” Present at the signing of the executive order were Vice President Mike Pence, DeVos, and Govs. Kay Ivey (R-AL), Terry Branstad (R-IA), Paul LePage (R-ME), Brian Sandoval (R-NV), Gary Herbert (R-UT), Matt Mead (R-WY). “As a former governor myself, I’ve always believed, as the President does, that education is a state and local function, and that decisions in education are best made by parents and teachers and local administrators,” Pence said. “The decisions over our children’s school should be made by parents and local administrators, not by politicians or unelected bureaucrats in a far, distant capital.” DeVos said the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was “a good step in this direction, giving flexibility to states to best meet the needs of their communities.” “We’re going to implement this law as Congress intended, not how the previous administration dictated,” the secretary added. “When we give decision-making power back to states and communities, students benefit. This executive order puts us on that track.” Grassroots parent activists and education think tanks that have studied ESSA, however, say the federal law – even as passed in “bipartisan” fashion by establishment members of Congress and signed into law immediately by former President Barack Obama – anchors states to the controversial Common Core or its “rebrands” and still requires states to obtain the approval of the federal government for its education plans. Quoting ESSA, American Principles Project senior fellow Jane Robbins and Indiana parent activist Erin Tuttle wrote at The Pulse 2016: “Each State shall demonstrate that the challenging academic standards are aligned with entrance requirements for credit-bearing coursework in the system of public higher education in the State and relevant State career and technical education standards.” “This is simply another way of saying states must have “college- and career-ready” standards,” the writers note. “And as made clear by the U.S. Department of Education’s own materials, “college- and career-ready” means Common Core.”

Betsy DeVos wins confirmation as education secretary as VP Pence casts historic vote

Flexing their slim majority, Republicans powered President Trump’s education secretary nominee through the Senate on Tuesday, with Vice President Mike Pence casting his first vote to break the tie and officially confirm Betsy DeVos. Democrats, urged on by their powerful backers in the teachers’ unions, had singled her out for particular scrutiny, calling her among the worst nominees in American history, and the worst of all Mr. Trump’s picks. They even mounted a round-the-clock vigil on the Senate floor, attacking her qualifications and saying the wealthy philanthropist’s commitment to parental choice in education would undermine the public school system. But most Republicans stuck together, rejecting the Democratic attacks and defending Mrs. DeVos as committed to getting children the best education possible, no matter what the setting. “The president deserves to have his Cabinet in place,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican. Mrs. DeVos cleared on a 51-50 vote. Two Republicans — Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine — defected to join Democrats in opposition. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the fact that Mr. Pence was needed to break a tie was “another glaring reminder of the unprecedented obstruction that Senate Democrats have engaged in throughout this process.”

Indeed..  Betsy’s confirmation earlier today is driving the education establishment, Democrat politicians, and the powerful teacher’s unions (like the NEA) absolutely nuts!  It’s a beautiful thing to see!