The office of nonpublic education, which was previously part of the soon-to-be-defunct office of innovation and improvement, will now report directly to the office of the secretary. DeVos is a longtime advocate for vouchers, tax credit scholarships, and other forms of private school choice.
That move and other reorganization changes were first reported by Politico.
DeVos is also planning to move the department’s budget office, which she has reportedly sought to eliminate, into a new office of finance and operations. That office’s other jobs will include finance, accounting, budgets, contract management, personnel, business data analysis and more.
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Before she was even sworn in as Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos emerged as one of the most controversial members of the Trump Administration. Her confirmation required a historic tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence after every Senate Democrat and two Senate Republicans voted against her. In the months since, like many others in the Trump Administration, DeVos has set about rolling back Obama-era policies, from Title IX guidance on campus sexual assault to regulations on for-profit colleges. She quickly found support from conservatives who had backed her previous work as a school choice advocate, but she struggled to build broad national support for her initiatives. DeVos, a prominent Republican donor, faced criticism from Democrats, teachers’ unions and civil rights advocates, many of whom noted that she did not have a background as an educator.
It would be an understatement to suggest that DeVos’ first year alone has sparked a number of controversies, some of which include:
In September (2017), DeVos rolled back controversial Obama-era guidance on how universities should handle sexual assault complaints on campus. The 2011 guidelines had instructed universities to use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard when adjudicating sexual assault complaints instead of the “clear and convincing evidence” standard, which requires a higher burden of proof and was used by some schools at the time.
DeVos stoked further controversy when she held meetings on campus sexual assault in July (2017), speaking with victims of sexual assault as well as students who say they’ve been falsely accused. Coupled with the acting head of the department’s Office for Civil Rights assertion that 90% of sexual assault complaints “fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk.’
Under her guidance, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice rescinded guidelines that allowed transgender students to use the bathrooms aligned with their gender identity.
In June (2017), an internal memo indicated that the department was scaling back investigations into civil rights violations at public schools and universities. In the two months that followed, the department also closed or dismissed more civil rights complaints than previous administrations had in similar periods of time.
DeVos has also led efforts that blocked the Obama Administration’s protections for students attending for-profit colleges. The regulations would have provided debt forgiveness to students defrauded by for-profit colleges and would have cut off funding to for-profit colleges that burdened students with loans while failing to prepare them for gainful employment.
Let’s fast-forward to now. DeVos is once again making waves and headlines as she ponders whether to allow grants from the academic support fund to be used for a highly controversial purpose: guns. The $1 billion Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants is intended for the country’s poorest schools and school districts to use the money toward three goals: providing well-rounded education, improving school conditions for learning and improving the use of technology for digital literacy.
Given the fact that the Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into law in 2015, is silent on weapons purchases, that omission would allow Ms. DeVos to use her discretion to approve or deny any state or district plans to use the enrichment grants under the measure for firearms and firearms training.
In addition, such a move would reverse a longstanding position taken by the federal government that it should not pay to outfit schools with weaponry. It would also undermine efforts by Congress to restrict the use of federal funding on guns.
DeVos is clearly an anomaly, who is ill prepared for the job. She is the first education secretary in the department’s 35-year history to not have been a public-school parent or student. DeVos attended private institutions for both grade school and college, and her four children were educated at private schools, too.
In my view, Betsy DeVos is unqualified, clearly unfit, and obviously too conflicted to serve as the U.S. Education Secretary and who, for all intents and purposes—appears bent on taking down the very institution she’s entrusted with.
In an Aug. 6letter to the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, which formally revoked the Obama-era guidance in early July, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the top Democrat on the Senate education committee, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the top Democrat on Senate Judiciary Committee, also demanded to know how the decision to revoke the guidance was reached. The two senators also asked for a list of complaints of discrimination based on race and ethnicity filed against K-12 and postsecondary institutions with the Education Department’s office for civil rights since the start of 2016.
In their joint letter withdrawing the guidance, the Trump Education and Justice Departments told schools that the Obama administration’s guidance advocated for “policy preferences and positions beyond the requirements of the Constitution” and the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
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WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Education today announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that proposes to rescind Gainful Employment (GE) regulations in order to provide useful, transparent higher education data to students and treat all institutions of higher education fairly.
“Students deserve useful and relevant data when making important decisions about their education post-high school,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “That’s why instead of targeting schools simply by their tax status, this administration is working to ensure students have transparent, meaningful information about all colleges and all programs. Our new approach will aid students across all sectors of higher education and improve accountability.”
The Department continues to believe that data such as debt levels, expected earnings after graduation, completion rates, program cost, accreditation, and consistency with licensure requirements are important to consumers, but not just those students who are considering enrolling in a gainful employment program. Therefore, in the NPRM the Department invites public comment concerning whether or not the Department should require institutions to disclose, on the program webpage, information about the program size, its completion rate, its cost, whether or not it is accredited, and whether the program meets the requirements for licensure in the State in which the institution is located.
In addition, to provide prospective students with important, actionable, and accurate information that could be used in college enrollment and borrowing decisions, the Department plans to update the College Scorecard or a similar web-based tool to provide program-level outcomes including, at a minimum, median debt and median earnings for all higher education programs, at all title IV participating institutions. The Department believes that this will improve transparency by providing comparable information for all programs and helping students understand what earnings they might expect based on those of prior graduates. This would also increase accountability of institutions by making it more difficult for institutions to misrepresent program outcomes, such as the earnings of prior graduates, since prospective students would have access to accurate data provided by the Secretary of Education.
The 30-day public comment period for these proposed regulations will begin once published in the Federal Register. In the interim, an unofficial version of the proposed rule can be found here.
In this week’s Federal Flash we’ll tell you three important things in the new federal career and technical education (CTE) law that is on its way to President Trump’s desk.
We’ll also review the Education Department’s proposed new rules for the charter school program and a proposal from House Democrats to renew the Higher Education Act.
It’s not every week that we have good news to share from Capitol Hill, but we certainly do today.
With time running out before members of Congress head home to campaign for the midterm election in August, a rewrite of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act had to happen quickly.
Usually the House passes one version of a bill, the Senate passes another, and they meet to work on a compromise of the two versions in a conference committee. Then each chamber passes the compromise bill. That process typically takes a while.
This time, the Senate education committee passed its bill in late June and the full Senate raced to pass a slightly modified version of that bill on Monday. On Wednesday, the House passed the Senate’s bill, allowing them to avoid a conference committee altogether and send the bill to President Trump for his signature.
This is an example where good politics actually pushed good policy.
The Perkins rewrite had been stalled for a while, but the urge to use the rewrite on the campaign trail helped to push Congress to finish the job. And this urge to get something done didn’t just come from Congress. The White House stepped in to move things along, including the personal involvement of Ivanka Trump.
Researchers and advocates who support school integration had a message on Capitol Hill Thursday: There are several setbacks to creating integrated schools, but new opportunities as well.
In a panel discussion on integration here hosted by the National Coalition for School Diversity, they highlighted the downside of what they characterized as the Trump administration’s recent U-turn on diversity efforts, court rulings that have undermined local desegregation efforts, as well as what they said was the resegregation of America’s schools.
But they also highlighted additional funding for the office for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education, as well as efforts in Congress to remove barriers to integration efforts.
Action on Capitol Hill to promote integration includes House and Senate education appropriations bills for fiscal 2019 that for the first time since the 1970s removes language barring federal funding from being used for transportation to create more integrated schools.
“The threats that we’re facing right now … are not the same threats as the massive resistance of the 1960s. They are shape-shifting,” said Damon Hewitt, the executive director of the Executives’ Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, who moderated the panel. “They threaten to erase the dream of [Brown v. Board of Education].”
However, the Trump administration has a very different approach to these issues. It scrapped that $12 million grant program, for example. And more recently, the Trump Education and Justice Departments withdrew Obama-era guidance on racial diversity in education because they said it went beyond what the Constitution requires—advocates at the panel singled out that move in particular for criticism.
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States: Got an idea for supporting the transition for high school Career and Technical Education students into postsecondary education and the workforce? The U.S. Department of Education wants to hear from you.
The department has created a new, $3 million grant program aimed at helping states provide apprenticeships in STEM fields (that’s science, technology, engineering, and math) during high school. The deadline to apply is July 17. The department will be holding a webinar on the program on June 5, 2018. You can register for it here.
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Happy Monday! And welcome to the next edition of “Answering Your ESSA Questions.” Our next question comes Nick Scott, who works for an Arizona-based company that manufactures LED crossing guard signs for school districts. Scott wants to know, essentially, if districts can use their Every Student Succeeds Act dollars to purchase crossing guard signs. Scott noted that his company has evidence it can point to that these signs really work. (ESSA is all about evidence-based practices.)
The short answer: Most likely, yes.
The longer answer: If districts want to purchase these crossing guard signs, their best bet is using money from the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, aka Title IV Part A of ESSA. That’s one of the much closely watched K-12 federal programs these days, in part because the money can be used for almost anything under the sun, from drama classes to counseling services.
And the program just got a whopping $700 million boost in the most recent spending bill, bringing its funding to $1.1 billion for fiscal 2018.
Broadly, Title IV dollars are supposed to be geared to improving student health and safety, making students more well-rounded, or bolstering the use of technology in learning. Crossing guard signs could fit under that safety umbrella…
Read the full article here: May require an Education Week subscription.
President’s Education Awards Program (PEAP) student recipients are selected annually by their school principal. This year, PEAP provided individual recognition to nearly 3 million graduates (at the elementary, middle and high school level) across the nation at more than 30,000 public, private and military schools from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Outlying Areas — American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands — and American military bases abroad.
Students received a certificate signed by President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Schools also received letters from the President and the Secretary.
The Department encourages schools to be on the lookout for 2018-19 school year materials from PEAP program partners: the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). The materials outline how to order certificates to award students before the end of the school year. Certificates are FREE, and there is no limit.
Please review the participant list at to see if your school is currently involved. If not, contact your local school/principal and urge them to participate for the upcoming school year.
PEAP was founded in 1983. Every year since then, the program has provided principals with the opportunity to recognize students who meet high standards of academic excellence, as well as those who have given their best effort, often overcoming obstacles in their learning. Eligible graduating K-12 students are selected by their principal under two categories.
The President’s Award for Educational Excellence – This award recognizes academic success in the classroom. To be eligible, students must meet a few academic requirements, including a high grade point average or other school-set criteria and a choice of either state test performance or teacher recommendations.
The President’s Award for Educational Achievement – This award recognizes students that show outstanding educational growth, improvement, commitment, or intellectual development in their subjects but do not meet the academic criteria above. Its purpose is to encourage and reward students who give their best effort, often in the face of special obstacles, based on criteria developed at each school.
The awards were presented to students by their fifth-grade homeroom teachers: Mrs. Sullivan, Mrs. Black, Mrs. Staggs, Miss Dillon, and Ms. Thompson.
Ombudsman Alternative Center in Mississippi serves high school-age students in Natchez School District who meet criterion and can take classes at their own pace to earn their high school diploma. Two Natchez students were recognized by PEAP this year, receiving certificates for their academic achievements. Principal Allison Jowers announced the students’ awards in May at the local board meeting, saying both students had earned the honors through their hard work and dedication to education. Jaila Queen, a freshman, earned the academic excellence award, while Briana White, a senior, earned the educational achievement award.
Two Natchez students Jaila Queen (left) and Briana White (right) received awards signed by President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for their academic success this year.
The program also receives great feedback throughout the year. From Long Pond Schoolin New Jersey, which celebrated their students’ achievement on May 24: “This is the 34thyear that Long Pond has participated in this program, and it’s really exciting to be part of it.” Principal Bryan Fleming closed the event with the reading of the anonymous poem “Just One,” which speaks of the many ways a small effort can spark greatness. The poem ends with the lines, “One life can make a difference, that one life could be you.”
Frances Hopkins is director of the President’s Education Awards Program at the U.S. Department of Education.