Betsy DeVos: The Plague of America

Betsy DeVos

Betsy DeVos has been serving as the United States Secretary of Education since 2017, and ever since, she has been a plague to America’s schools and students. Much like Typhoid Mary, she’s been infecting the public with no symptoms herself and needs to be contained in isolation.

Her love for for-profit education is the reasons thousands of Americans are in debt for tens of thousands of dollars. The Obama administration worked hard to create policy insuring bad for-profit colleges wouldn’t have access to federal grants or loans leaving students burdened with unmanageable debt.

The policy compared the average graduate’s debt with the average graduate’s earnings after college and would cut off schools that had a terrible ratio. Imagine slaving for four years, crying over your midterms, graduating with thousands of dollars of debt, only to be turned away by every job you apply for.

Stephanie Stiefel had enrolled in a now-defunct for-profit school in Tampa to get a B.A. and a well-paying job in interior design. She graduated with a 3.8 GPA and $62,000 in debt. She quickly learned the only jobs she could get were minimum wage jobs that she could have gotten without a degree. 10 years later and finished with a tour of duty with the army, Stiefel is $110,000 in debt.

And then Betsy DeVos came in. And make things so much worse.

She overhauled the school system in Michigan and replaced less desirable public schools with truly awful for-profit charter schools. They voided the teachers union contract, fired all employees, and turned over to control to a private charter operator.

Three years later, the school was shut down and the area called Highland Park had no high school – public or charter. Families were forced to send their children to a high school in other districts where they had no influence over elections, officials, or school boards.

The Carver Academy is a school many of these students were forced to go to. Backed with a 2008 cheating scandal where teachers were caught teaching their students answers to standardized tests and a 2011 embezzlement conviction where the treasurer used $25,000 of funds to buy herself a house, Carver Academy was a less than desirable school to go to.

With safety concerns, heating and air conditioning problems, and serious security issues, charter schools were rightly contested. Proponents of charter schools argue that public schools are at times worse than this. But if a parent is sending their child to a for-profit school, expectations are significantly raised.

Betsy DeVos was and is doing everything she can to destroy Obama’s efforts to take out schools that take advantage of students who only want to get a good education. She has filled her department with people from for-profit schools who benefit from conning students to go to these for-profit colleges.

The most recent thing DeVos has planned is to not make any regulation against schools to use federal funding to arm their teachers with guns.

Her complacency in the issue is the same as her signing an approval for federal funding to arm schools.

The question is now whether schools should be allowed to tap into the $1 billion program intended for academic and enrichment programs such as art, music, or sports that nurture a well-rounded student to instead be used for firearms and training.

DeVos gave the question to Congress and wrote that she had “no intention of taking any action concerning the purchase of firearms or firearms training for school staff.

Although the original law that Congress drafted allows schools flexibility on what to spend their federally funded money on, it is not clarified whether they can use it to buy and train teachers and faculty in firearms.

In reality, guns will create a climate of fear in a classroom. Contrary to pro-gun opinion, having a firearm in the classroom will not make you any safer.

The number of mass shootings stopped by an armed civilian in the last 33 years? 0.

14 states have proposed laws that would use taxpayer dollars to allow teachers firearms and training. There are far safer and better ways to keep a classroom safe than arming their teachers like prioritizing a schools climate, providing more and better mental health services, and implementing proven threat-assessment programs.

Students who walk into schools intending to commit mass murder are never quiet about it. There are warning signs on top of warning signs.

We need to start putting our students in front of a political agenda. Arming teachers will not keep us any safer and that money needs to go towards programs that will make them more well-rounded individuals.

Now, DeVos is trying to overhaul Obama-era regulation on how sexual assault is handled on college campuses.

The changes will give more rights to those accused of rape, make it harder for victims to get the justice they deserve, and lessen the liability of campus administrators.

The new rules will narrow the definition of sexual assault, hold schools only responsible for formal complaints and assaults that occurred on campus, and encourage victims and their abusers to reach an informal resolution.

So basically, she’s trying to make it more difficult for victims to come forward about their assault and letting schools off the hook for crimes that happen under their roof. The administration that is complacent in the sexual assault is just as responsible.

Being forced to face your abuser is hard enough but for a victim to try and come to an “informal resolution” will be like torture. The change will also allow the abuser to cross-examine the victim. I’m just going to let that sink in.

Already, more than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report their rape. DeVos wants to make the number higher and higher.

In her eyes, if rapes aren’t being reported, they aren’t happening.

1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted on a college campus. Imagine how many men and women will have to suffer in silence because they don’t want to face their abuser. Or look them in the eye while they try to come to a resolution.

The Education Department estimates that their new policy will decrease the number of investigations a university needs to conduct and save educational institutes millions of dollars over the next decade.

Of course, a school will decrease the number of investigations in sexual misconduct of students stop reporting it. Of course, they will save millions of dollars if rape is not being reported. By that logic, they might as well apply the same rules to theft and vandalism.

DeVos’s policies are going to create a dangerous environment for students everywhere. It will only give abusers more power and make victims more vulnerable. Betsy DeVos’s only concern is money. She couldn’t care less about the rights of victims.

Cynthia P. Garrett, co-president of Families Advocating for Campus Equality, a group advocating for the rights of students who are accused of misconduct said, “I think the department is trying to balance the interests of all parties.” She continues, “They’re also trying to preserve basic rights for the accused, which includes the presumption of innocence. I don’t understand why anyone would object to that.”

Selfish. That is what this policy is. It’s an attempt to take liability off the school’s shoulders disguised as a way to make it equal for all parties. Yes, everyone is innocent until proven guilty. But the numbers of sexual assault victims speak for themselves. It is far more likely for there to be a victim of sexual assault than a false report. The repercussions of this policy can last for years to come.

Betsy DeVos really is a plague on America. She only cares about two things: money and her political agenda.

It’s time we start putting our students first.

Also published on Medium.