Early in his campaign, Donald Trump pledged, “As president, I will establish the national goal of providing school choice to every American child living in poverty. If we can put a man on the moon, dig out the Panama Canal, and win two world wars, then I have no doubt that we as a nation can provide school choice to every disadvantaged child in America.”
Now that Betsy DeVos is confirmed, America could be closer to achieving this goal, but the path will not be easy due to strong partisan opinions in both the House and the Senate. Already pegged as the “most polarizing education secretary ever,” it is clear that DeVos has a tough job ahead of her.
In order to lead America’s education policy and quell the legitimate concerns raised by her opponents, DeVos should explain to worried Americans that school choice can still include an effective public school system. Further, DeVos should repeal federal regulations that disincentivize states from adopting personalized education programs that could benefit their students.
While some criticism of DeVos has been political theatre, a few of DeVos’s colleagues have legitimate worries about her policies. Two of them, Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, even broke rank to make the confirmation vote close. DeVos is a strong advocate of school choice policies and the reallocation of public school funds to voucher programs and private schools, which can be a scary prospect for senators from rural areas like Alaska and Maine.
Continue reading at American Thinker.
As Obama enters his “lame duck” period with Congress, executive agencies are hurrying to push through some final regulations to fulfill the president’s agenda before Inauguration Day. Among the whirlwind of last-minute regulations, the Department of Education (ED) proposed
a rule currently under review to protect students against corrupt educational institutions. The final regulation should slip into the Federal Register
Nov. 1, just as media and public attention shifts toward the coming administration. Unfortunately, the motivations of this regulation are highly political and, if promulgated, would reduce education options for the most vulnerable members of society.
The proposed regulation is supposed to improve debt repayment programs for students who were taken advantage of by corrupt institutions (Trump University, anyone?). Secretary of Education John King stated
, “We won’t sit idly by while dodgy schools leave students with piles of debt and taxpayers holding the bag.”
Student debt forgiveness has been a popular staple of left-leaning political platforms this election season, and it seems that the Obama administration is taking advantage of this idea to push a political agenda that unfairly punishes private institutions.
The new regulation has certain provisions that strictly affect the for-profit sector. The most misleading discriminatory standard includes expanding the circumstances under which borrowers can file a claim against their university. Particularly, a borrower can bring a case through ED if the school “misled” a student about the benefits or costs of a given education program. The tricky part is that under the new rule, “misleading” does not require intent. The regulation even spells out an example in which an advisor tells a student inquiring about financial aid that “most of our students receive scholarships,” which could be considered misleading if the student made a decision based on that information.
Continue reading at The Hill.
If Pennsylvania residents think taxes are high now, wait until they catch wind of the bill they’ll be footing under a new Obama administration regulation that could allow thousands of students to default on their loans.
The “borrower defense to repayment” regulation, created during the Clinton administration, was originally established to protect students from being exploited by universities.
If a university were to break state laws, students could petition to challenge their loan repayments.
However, new amendments to these regulations, which are currently in review before final publication, creates murky waters for students to evade repaying their loans, forcing taxpayers to pick up the tab.
Continue reading at PennLive.
The Obama administration continued its attack on independent higher education this week. Officials with the Department of Education (ED) found that the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) failed to comply with 21 different federal standards to retain accreditor status. The report suggests revoking ACICS’s status, which would essentially force it to close its doors at the hand of ED.
Many lawmakers are on a headhunt for accreditors, such as ACICS, including Senator Elizabeth Warren. The Senator called for the end of ACICS, despite being one of the largest accrediting institutions in the country. She stated in a letter that there was a “failure on the part of ACICS to serve as an effective guarantor of institutional quality.” With ED’s power to revoke status to accrediting institutions, the federal government is effectively threatening to shut down hundreds of institutions and businesses that provide private, for-profit education. The government is invested because students can receive federal loans for school if they attend an accredited institution.
For-profit universities have been under surveillance for years. The middle-man function that accreditors play in higher education does the job that consumers themselves should be doing: looking into the colleges and universities that they intend to apply to. The creation of accreditors has only solidified the hold that the federal government has on higher ed, in the form of strings attached to funding.
The acts committed by sketchy for-profit institutions should be incriminating enough. There’s no justifiable need for the ED or accrediting agencies to hound on institutions of higher education. If a student chooses to attend a for-profit institution that lacks accreditation, let them. Students are consumers of the education they wish to purchase, and with that comes every responsibility that every other consumer has: the risk and research that comes with a purchase. If an institution is failing, let the free market and flow of information allow it to fail.