It is a deeply partisan time in Michigan and across the country. But, across partisan lines, MEA’s members have experienced why U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is the wrong person for the job.
The outcome of this fall’s presidential election will determine if DeVos continues her push to privatize public schools from the nation’s top education post—or if we can have new leadership from a qualified educator in the Department of Education.
Since becoming the Secretary of Education—after Vice President Mike Pence had to cast the tiebreaking vote in the closest Senate confirmation vote ever for a Cabinet secretary—DeVos has run roughshod over the cherished institution of public education:
Pushing voucher programs—even in the pandemic
Her brazen scheme to take $50 billion from public schools for voucher programs pre-dates COVID-19. Since then, she’s used the crisis to continue pushing her agenda, using federal coronavirus-relief funds to create a $180 million voucher program for private and religious schools and ordering states to redistribute their CARES Act funds to private schools.1
Funneling money to for‑profit charters
Not surprisingly, given her long history of support for the for-profit charter industry, DeVos has done nothing to stem the tide of federal money charters get despite zero guarantee of quality, accountability or transparency. A 2019 report showed about $1 billion in taxpayer dollars have been wasted on more than 1,000 charter schools that never opened, or opened and then closed because of mismanagement or other reasons—including millions to 63 Michigan charters that never opened.2
Putting for‑profit lenders ahead of students trying to pay their loans
Under DeVos, 99 percent of applications to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program were denied from May 2018 through May 2019, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Since then, she has consistently sided with for-profit lenders over student borrowers, even having been sued for continuing to garnish wages for loan payments during the pandemic, in violation of the federal CARES Act.3
Fewer protections for sexual assault victims and LGBTQ students
Weakened DOE rules under Title IX protecting sexual assault and harassment victims drew a lawsuit earlier this year from 18 state attorneys general, including Michigan’s Dana Nessel. And DeVos’s Education Department is nine times less likely than the Obama administration to take action on Title IX complaints related to sexual orientation or gender—no surprise given the 2017 DOE reversal of protections for transgender students.4
It’s time for a change at the Department of Education—and that starts with electing Vice President Joe Biden as the next President of the United States. Learn more at mea.org/FireDeVos.
1. EducationVotes.NEA.org & NYTimes.com
2. Network for Public Education & WashingtonPost.com
3. GAO.gov & Politico.com
4. MLive.com & Center for American Progress.