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Grades Are In: Evaluating Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

Paul Manafort arrives at federal court, Friday, June 15, 2018, in Washington. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
Paul Manafort arrives at federal court, Friday, June 15, 2018, in Washington. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

With Anthony Brooks

What’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos been up to lately? The correct answer is: plenty. We’ll look at the report card.


Michelle Hackman, reporter for the Wall Street Journal who covers the Department of Education and national education policy. (@MHackman)

Max Eden, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute focusing on education policy. (@maxeden99)

Maura Healey, Massachusetts Attorney General, one of 17 attorneys general suing the Department of Education for not enforcing the “gainful employment” regulation. (@MassAGO)

Hilary Shelton, Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy at the NAACP. Director to the NAACP’s Washington Bureau. (@HilaryOShelton)

From The Reading List

New York Times: “DeVos to Eliminate Rules Aimed at Abuses by For-Profit Colleges” — “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos plans to eliminate regulations that forced for-profit colleges to prove that they provide gainful employment to the students they enroll, in what would be the most drastic in a series of moves that she has made to free the for-profit sector from safeguards put in effect during the Obama era. The so-called gainful employment regulations put into force by the Obama administration cut off federally guaranteed student loans to colleges if their graduates did not earn enough money to pay them off. That sent many for-profit colleges and universities into an economic tailspin because so many of their alumni were failing to find decent jobs.”

CNN: “New Betsy DeVos rule would limit loan relief for defrauded students” — “Consumer groups blasted Education Secretary Betsy DeVos this week over a new rule they say would make it harder for defrauded students to seek debt relief. Currently, students may be eligible for federal loan forgiveness if their college closed or was accused of fraudulent activity. More than 130,000 borrowers have applied since 2015, a majority of whom attended for-profit colleges. The new rule would replace one written by the Obama Administration after the government received an unprecedented number of claims following the collapse of Corinthian Colleges in 2015. The government found Corinthian had misled students for years by advertising inaccurate job placement numbers.”

Wall Street Journal: “Religion Looms Large for Education Official in Charge of Civil Rights” — “As an elementary-school student, Ken Marcus once wandered down a street just outside his predominantly Jewish hometown of Sharon, Mass., when a group of children spotted him. ‘They started throwing rocks and yelled for me to go back to my “Jew town,”‘ he recalled in an interview this week. The episode, Mr. Marcus said, shaped his view on the need for greater civil-rights protections—and particularly for a more vigorous battle against anti-Semitism in the U.S.”

The Heritage Foundation: “Time for Secretary DeVos to Rescind Obama-Era School Discipline Policies” — “School’s out for the summer, but the biggest question the Trump administration should answer before the fall remains: Will Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos stop Washington from coercing school districts to adopt former President Barack Obama’s progressive approach to school discipline and safety?”

It’s been an eventful summer for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Fortunately, nobody got hurt when someone unmoored her yacht, allowing it to float away. But her policies, including abandoning Obama-era guidance on affirmative action and easing regulations on for-profit colleges, have real consequences on real students. She champions deregulation — so how is that reshaping federal education policy?

This hour, On Point: A back-to-school report card for Betsy Devos.

— Anthony Brooks

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