Despite efforts by Democratic senators including a 24-hour smack down aimed at stalling her confirmation, President Trump’s appointee for Education Secretary, Betsey DeVos, was approved by Congress on Tuesday. But the appointment wasn’t without controversy. Not only were Democrats staunchly against her, citing her lack of experience, two Republicans crossed party lines to vote against her nomination, requiring Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie breaking vote. Interestingly enough, the tie break on the Presidential nomination was the first time ever in the country’s history.
DeVos, who is a billionaire businesswoman and former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, is the first Secretary of Education to have no formal experience in education. A champion of K-12 charter schools and with ties to the for-profit college industry, DeVos thinks parents should have more choice when it comes to their children’s schooling, but she has had little experience with higher education and even flubbed the growth of national student debt during confirmation hearings.
While DeVos will be in charge of the country’s Department of Education, it doesn’t mean it will be smooth sailing for her and Trump’s agenda which includes providing students with vouchers for alternatives to attending public school. According to a report in the Washington Post, the two Republicans that voted with Democrats—Senator Susan Collins of Main and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska—were against the nomination of DeVos due to her support of these vouchers. With two R
But it’s not only vouchers that critics of DeVos will be paying attention to as she takes charge of a government agency with 4,400 employees and a budget of $68 billion. There are a lot of issues that impact college students that may or may not change under DeVos. Take Title IX which protects against discrimination based on sex. According to a report in NPR, DeVos said during her confirmation hearings that it would be premature to confirm keeping Title IX in place.
As for the ever rising cost of a college education, DeVos has been skeptical of the idea of free college, saying during her confirmation hearings that “there’s nothing in life that’s truly free.” On the for-profit college industry front, which DeVos has ties to, DeVos said she would review the gainful employment rule which requires for-profit colleges and certificate programs to provide degree programs that lead to employment. Those that don’t comply lose federal financial aid such as student loans. She did not, however, say she would uphold it.
Author: Donna Fuscaldo
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