A Federal Judge Will Force Betsy DeVos to Explain Her Actions Towards Defrauded College Students

Donald Trump placed a number of unqualified people in important positions. No appointment, though, may have been more destructive than making Betsy DeVos the education secretary.

Rather than helping people attain an education, DeVos worked on making it more difficult. The billionaire heiress also turned a blind eye to students who had been defrauded by for profit colleges. Donald Trump, not surprisingly, had started one of these sham colleges himself.

Under Trump Administration, tens of thousands of fraud claims against sham colleges were dismissed. The students who filed the claims were given little to no explanation for the denials.

160,000 of these students joined a class action lawsuit against the Education Department. DeVos was attempting to avoid testifying in the case. A federal judge has now ordered her to sit for testimony.

The judge, William Alsup, “ruled that DeVos must sit for

three-hour deposition in which attorneys for the student borrowers may question her under oath about the decisions she made regarding the loan forgiveness program.” read more

Betsy DeVos Says She Stands By Resignation But Also Thinks Trump is Key to Future of the GOP

Like other presidents before him, Donald Trump rewarded supporters with roles in his administration. But the 45th president took it to an extreme. Trump’s cabinet was filled with people completely unqualified for their roles.

Betsy DeVos was a good example of this. The billionaire heiress was named Secretary of Education. Her tenure was disastrous as she sought to privatize public schools and made it easier for college rapists to get away with their crimes.

Following the January insurrection, DeVos resigned from her position. It wasn’t all that big a stance as Trump was set to leave office days later. She wrote in a resignation letter, “

That behavior was unconscionable for our country. There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me.” read more

Rudy Giuliani’s Security Detail in Ukraine Was Handled by Betsy DeVos’ Brother’s Controversial Company

The second time Donald Trump was impeached, it was his own fault. The former President’s lies about the election had stirred his supporters into a frenzy and they stormed the US Capitol.

The first time Trump was impeached, though, was kind of Rudy Giuliani’s fault. The bumbling lawyer had taken off to Ukraine and very openly tried to dig up dirt on Joe Biden‘s son, Hunter.

According to a new report from Buzzfeed, Giuliani wasn’t in the Ukraine alone. Along with him was a security detail from Erik Prince’s controversial company Blackwater.

Christopher Miller writes, “

Prince provided Giuliani with a personal bodyguard by the name of Thomas “Doc” Williams, who accompanied the then–personal attorney for Trump everywhere he went on the Eastern European trip.” read more

Opinion: Surviving Trump and DeVos: Dr. Jill Biden Brings Fresh Perspective On Education And Labor To White House

“Teacher working conditions are student learning conditions.”

This phrase has accompanied many a report on how to improve and reform public education in America and, of course, policy statements from education associations that support the work of teachers.

To a large degree, the phrase is not just pithy but also has the ring of truth. It seems like basic common sense.  If classrooms are not equipped with textbooks, computers, and other technology and supplies necessary for educating America’s youth so they are prepared to take on the work necessary for our society to operate and serve the population’s needs in the 21st century, how can teachers optimally help students learn as they need to?

And, of course, for classrooms to be optimal learning environments, our public schools also need to be able to recruit and retain the best and brightest among us, right? After all, who do you want teaching your children? To achieve this end requires ensuring the profession earns a respectable salary and working conditions are supportive and empowering.

This phrase is effective in reminding us that issues of education and of labor justice, of workers’ rights, go hand in hand.

After four years of Trump’s presidency and the shameful and deleterious antics of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, having Dr. Jill Biden accompany President-elect Joe Biden into the White House will be a breath fresh air, promising a proper seriousness when it comes to educational policy, including a respect for the rights of labor.

Dr. Biden recognizes the interconnectedness of these issues, as exemplified in her tweet from last November:

Linking the right to organize, as well as teachers’ salaries and working conditions, to the fight for quality public education seems like a fresh idea in Washington D.C. because this type of thinking has been not just absent in Trump’s administration, it has been roundly, even savagely, dismissed in favor of a brutal assault on public education, on teachers’ rights, and on the students’ civil rights.

The sounds of Trump’s silence on public education and teachers’ working conditions were audible to the point of being deafening when in 2018 teachers from West Virginia, Arizona, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Colorado effectively engaged in mass strikes the likes of which our nation has not witnessed since the 1930s. Trump said not a word to acknowledge or in any way address both the lagging teacher salaries in those states or the woefully low levels of funding for public education which was also a major, if not primary, impetus behind the teachers’ mass actions. The silence continued in early 2019, which witnessed massive teachers’ strikes in Denver, Los Angeles, and Oakland for similar reasons.

Trump’s 2020 proposed budget slashed education funding by $7 billion, and his proposed 2021 budget followed up with a $6 billion cut.  DeVos has repeatedly endorsed policies that enable funding typically channeled to America’s public schools to be diverted to private schools.

And she has fought repeatedly against civil rights protections, or enforcement of protections, for transgender students and students with disabilities as well as for DACA recipients.

Perhaps exemplary of DeVos’ long and damaging four-year reign as Secretary of Education is her participation in Trump’s ongoing assault on the rights of federal workers and their unions.  In 2018, Erica Green reported for The New York Times, federal labor mediators advised DeVos and her department that they were likely in federal violation of law in their curtailing of workers’ protections and their right to access union representation.

David Borer, counsel for the union, stated at the time, “It’s a real spoke in the wheel in the government’s attempt to destroy federal sector unions. This was the first salvo in what’s become a broadening assault on federal unions, the rights of federal workers.”

DeVos’ attack on union rights echoed the myriad anti-union statements riddling Trump’s budget at the time.

It needs to be pointed out that, of course, this attack on unions, on workers having the right to representation in the world and the right to organize, is consistent with efforts to undermine democracy we see being carried on ever more intensely these days by the Trump administration and the Republican Party overall. The attack on unions needs to be understood as an attempt to deprive workers of the right to have a say in their workplace, where they spend a good portion of their time. To suggest that we have democracy-free zones, in this case the nation’s workplaces, in a democracy is just a violent contradiction, a bill of goods Republicans have for too long been selling Americans at steep price.

But more to the point here—pardon my digression—is that in the realm of education, anti-labor policy is actually anti-student, anti-education. In this regard, DeVos is the Secretary of Mis-Education.

On her way out the door, she has been urging the very colleagues she has assaulted to resist changes to her policies, telling agency employees:

“Many of you know well that most everything in this town, when it comes to education, is focused on schools — not students. So, let me leave you with this last plea: Resist. Be the resistance against a familiar force that will distract you from doing what’s right for students.”

And here we see what is either DeVos’ iniquity or stupidity—or perhaps the unhappy combination of the two.  Students are educated in schools by teachers. We must give schools the proper means to meet students’ needs and allow them to excel, and that means also recruiting, retaining, and supporting quality teachers, enabling them to have autonomy and exercise their expertise and creativity in serving students. It means having counselors and nurses on staff to take care of children.

What does she think it means to focus on students, if not make sure they have quality teachers, optimal teaching and learning environments, and attention to their health, mental and otherwise?

Ironically, DeVos’ tenure is best characterized as a constant assault on students. Last January the

American Federation of Teachers read more

Dem. Congressman Jared Huffman Destroys Betsy DeVos in Brutal Tweet

A lot of Donald Trump’s cabinet members have been objects of ridicule. Oreo Cookies made fun of Ben Carson after a HUD gaffe. Late night news hosts ripped Wilbur Ross for his physical and behavioral similarities to Mr. Burns from the Simpsons.

But no figure has been the figure of more disdain than Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Even in committee hearings, the billionaire Trump donor is insulted right to her face.

And back when DeVos had a disastrous 2018 60 Minutes interview, California Democrat Jared Huffman couldn’t resist taking a huge shot at her. “Dear President Trump,” Huffman wrote.  “If you want to meet someone who has an actual IQ problem (as opposed to just being black), meet your Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Rich, white, and dumber than a bag of hammers.”

Dear President Trump, if you want to meet someone who has an actual IQ problem (as opposed to just being black), meet your Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Rich, white, and dumber than a bag of hammers. https://t.co/hrkNuF1OQW read more

Betsy DeVos is Encouraging Staffers to be “The Resistance” Against Biden Administration

Donald Trump’s cabinet was filled with unqualified an incompetent people. But no one in Donald Trump’s cabinet was as unqualified and incompetent as Betsy DeVos.

Trump tapped the billionaire donor to be his Secretary of Education. Time and time again, the Michigan heiress showed just how little she knew about her job.

A 2018 60 Minutes interview went viral after DeVos told Leslie Stahl, “I have not – I have not – I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.”

During a December 2019 hearing, Florida congresswoman told the Education Secretary, “

You are the most unpopular person in our government. Millions will register to vote in 2020 and many will vote to remove you more than to remove the president.” read more

Betsy DeVos: We Need to Reopen In-Person Learning in “Every Possible Situation”

Parents across America would like to get their children back to school, but also do so in a safe way. In some areas, that has been difficult. The city of Boston recently shuttered public schools after an alarming rise in positive COVID-19 cases.

Despite having the virus, Donald Trump has also pushed for the reopening of schools. And he is joined in lock-step by his Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.

On Wednesday, DeVos held a virtual conference call with the Pacific Research Institute. During the call, she made some alarming comments about public schools.

The Secretary remarked, “

We know that in some places where there is a spike in cases of the virus, that there may have to be short times of working at a distance, but for those families who need and want this for their children, learning in person, there’s no other substitute for it.” read more

Opinion: A Full View of the Economy Reveals Trump’s Betrayal of Americans

Polling indicates that Americans still give Donald Trump an edge over Joe Biden when it comes to their faith in either candidate to manage the economy.

While it’s true that, according to a late-August Reuters/Ipsos poll, Trump’s approval rating on the economy has dipped 14% since March, putting him in negative territory with 47% approving and 48% disapproving of his management of the economy, voters nonetheless see Trump as a better bet when it comes to serving their economic interests—despite the fact that the same poll revealed that 58% of respondents believed the economy was on the wrong track. read more

Betsy DeVos Accused of Hiding Out in Her Mansion Even as She Pushes to Reopen Schools

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is isolating herself within her 22,000-square-foot Michigan estate even as she pushes to reopen schools nationwide amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education pushed back against the reports.

“That’s simply not true,” the spokesperson told Salon via email. “Secretary DeVos has held 9 roundtables, 4 briefings, 30 calls with governors, 62 calls with state superintendents, 28 interviews and 13 conference calls about this pandemic. She provided 7 major flexibilities, took 5 steps to protect students’ rights, and made $30B for schools available in 30 days.” read more

Trump Threatens to Withhold Funds from Schools That Don’t Reopen

Trump responds to Black Lives Matter by defending the Confederacy

Writing on Twitter earlier this morning, President Donald Trump accused Democrats of orchestrating a political ploy in advocating for schools to remain shuttered because of coronavirus risks.

“In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS,” he wrote. “The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!”

In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS. The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open! read more

DeVos Sued by 19 Attorneys General for Overturning Rule Protecting Students from Predatory Schools

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has been sued by 19 attorneys general for overturning a rule that protected students from predatory higher education institutions. The rule dated back to the Obama administration and ensured that schools were denied federal funding if their students graduated with disproportionately heavy debt loads and weakened career prospects.

The attorneys general are from the states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Colorado, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia.

“Betsy DeVos’s unjustified and illegal repeal of the Gainful Employment rule is yet another example of the Trump Administration’s continued efforts to dismantle critical safeguards protecting students and taxpayers in order to further the interests of for-profit colleges,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.

“We are standing up for students and calling out the Department of Education’s improper repeal of a rule that plays a vital role in ensuring students can make informed decisions about their education,” James continued “The Trump administration’s actions here are just another example of putting special interests ahead of student interests.”

Opinion: Are We All in This Together? Not When Republicans Funnel Relief to Millionaires

Trump - McConnell

We’re all in this together.

Is anybody else tired of hearing this mantra?

I mean, in many ways I love it both as an aspirational sentiment, encapsulating the vision of a cooperative, humane, and compassionate social way of being, and as a statement that captures an undeniable, matter-of-fact aspect of our reality: we are absolutely dependent on one another. If we don’t grasp that fact now, when we are made hyperconscious of the “essential” workers performing all the functions that make food available to us, when will we? read more