Target: Betsy DeVos, Secretary, Department of Education
Goal: Ensure for-profit charter schools and colleges are held to equivalent standard of public institutions.
For-profit education in the United States gained a powerful ally with the confirmation of billionaire Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. Secretary DeVos has long supported transitioning federal education funding from public to private charter schools and is a strong proponent of for-profit colleges. This is emblematic of the overall Trump Administration philosophy, which favors privatization and deregulation of education.
Charter schools are championed by many, including Secretary DeVos, as the answer to a “failing” public education system. These entities receive federal money in the form of a voucher for each enrolled student, money which would have ordinarily been provided to a public school. A primary concern raised by lawmakers is that charter schools are not necessarily bound to uphold the same accountability standards or student protections as federally subsidized public schools. Secretary DeVos came under intense scrutiny during her confirmation hearing for refusing to ensure equal accountability, and declining to bind charter schools to federal laws mandating accommodation for students with disabilities.
The for-profit higher education industry has been hampered in recent years by student loan and accreditation fraud, a poor job placement record and closure of schools such as Corinthian, ITT Tech and Everest. Despite this track record, Secretary DeVos and the Trump Administration are actively working to weaken government oversight. For example, they have proposed eliminating the “Gainful Employment” rule, which requires vocational schools to meet job placement targets as a requirement for receiving federal student financial aid. Former senior representatives of for-profit colleges have gained high profile placements within the Department of Education. This includes a senior advisor to Secretary DeVos, who was the lead attorney for Bridgepoint Education, settling a $30 million lawsuit for deceptive student lending practices.
President Trump personally benefited for years from the infamous real estate training program known as Trump University. Shortly before taking office, Trump paid $25 million to settle claims from hundreds of program participants who were enticed to spend as much as $35,000, based on false promises of career advancement.
Clearly, this administration cannot be trusted to independently ensure oversight of for-profit institutions. Please sign the below petition demanding accountability.
Dear Secretary DeVos,
I am writing to demand that the Department of Education ensure oversight of for-profit charter schools and colleges. This industry has been dogged in recent years by student loan fraud, a poor job placement record and closure of several schools.
Your refusal in confirmation hearings to uphold equal accountability and federal laws requiring accommodation of students with disabilities in charter schools was extremely troubling. As several lawmakers pointed out this philosophy may remove vital protections for vulnerable students.
Please demonstrate your stated commitment to education by ensuring comprehensive oversight and accountability of for-profit institutions.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Jared Rodriguez