Betsy DeVos

Secretary of Education

  • 1997 Writes in an op-ed: "[M]y family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican party... I have decided, however, to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect some things in return." (ConservativeReview)
  • 2001 At a meeting of Christians, states with her husband that school choice leads to “greater Kingdom gain,” and that public schools have “displaced” church as the center of communities. “Our desire is to be in that Shephelah [an Old Testament battleground], and to confront the culture in which we all live today in ways that will continue to help advance God’s Kingdom.” (Politico)(link to audio recording)
  • June-July 2016 $1.45 million donated by the DeVos family to Michigan Republicans to push for deregulation and minimal oversight of charter schools in the state. (FreeP) The Michigan charter school oversight laws remain the most lax in the nation, allowing for no accountability of public funds spent by private, for-profit schools. (FreeP)
  • 12/14/16 Called on to repay more than $5.3 million in election fines owed by her school-choice advocacy group, All Children Matter, a record fine that is almost a decade past due. (Politico)
  • 1/17/17 At her Senate confirmation hearing to become Secretary of Education:
    • Says after some evasion that it should be up to the states whether guns are allowed in schools, citing protection against grizzly bears as one reason. (CNN)
    • Has with her family donated $957,950 to the senators voting on her confirmation. (AmericanProgress)
    • Lies under oath about being listed on the board of her mother's anti-gay foundation, Focus on the Family. She was vice president according to IRS documents. (Intercept)
    • Refuses to agree that charter schools should be held to the same standards of accountability as public schools. (WaPo)
    • Says that states should be able to choose whether or not to enforce the Individuals with Disabilities Act, a federal law that requires public schools to provide accomodations for all students with disabilities. (WaPo)
    • Refuses to say that she would enforce federal laws which ensure public money is properly used in the education system. “We will certainly review that rule, and see if it is actually achieving what the intentions are.” (HuffPo)
    • Refuses to answer when asked about the failures of the Detroit public and charter school systems, which she and her family have spent tens of millions of dollars towards deregulating. (Slate)
  • 1/17/17 Says that it is possible that her family has donated upwards of $200 million to Republicans. (Forbes)
  • 1/31/17 Reported that she submitted plagiarized answers in a Senate questionnaire. (CNN)
  • 2/7/17 Wins Senate confirmation to become Secretary of Education in a 50-51 vote, with two Republican defectors and VP Pence voting to break the tie, the first ever VP tiebreaker for a cabinet nomination. DeVos faced more opposition than almost any other cabinet nominee. (NYTimes)

 

As U.S. Secretary of Education

  • 2/10/17 Is temporarily barred from entering a D.C. middle school by a gathering of angry protesters. (WaPo)
  • 2/11/17 A U.S. Department of Education website dedicated to the federal Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) vanishes. (SeattlePI)
  • 2/12/17 The Dept. of Education website misspells "W.E.B. Du Bois" as "W.E.B. DeBois" and then issues an apology misspelling "apologies" as "apologizes." (Politico)
  • 2/18/17 Criticizes teachers at a D.C. middle school, saying that they were in "receiving mode... waiting to be told what they have to do, and that's not going to bring success to an individual child. You have to have teachers who are empowered to facilitate great teaching." (SFGate)
  • 2/28/17 Says in a statement that historically black colleges and universities are "real pioneers when it comes to school choice" and "they are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and great quality." (Hill)
  • 3/17/17 Hires Robert Eitel as a special assistant, who spent the past 18 months as a lawyer for a for-profit college facing multiple government investigations, including deceptive student lending practices that led to a $30 million settlement. (NYT)
  • 3/20/17 In a legal filing the Education Department suggested that borrowers could not rely on a college loan forgiveness program’s administrator to say accurately whether they qualify for debt forgiveness, even after signing up and giving the requisite ten years of public service. (NYT)
  • 4/11/17 Reverses Obama-era student loan protections which attempted to reform how student loan servicers collect debt. (Bloomberg)
  • 5/10/17 Receives continuous boos and jeers during her 20-minute commencement speech at Bethune-Cookman, a traditionally black college. (USAToday) She drew criticism in late February after describing historically black colleges "real pioneers when it comes to school choice." (NPR)(Hill)
  • 5/19/17 Announces that the Education Department will select one company to collect student debt payments on its behalf, rather than the nine contractors that currently handle the $1.2 trillion portfolio. (WaPo)
  • 7/6/17 Nineteen Democratic state attorneys general sue DeVos over rescinded student loan regulations, alleging that the DOE violated federal law by abruptly rolling back its Borrower Defense to Repayment rule, which was designed to hold abusive higher education institutions accountable for cheating students and taxpayers out of billions of dollars in federal loans. (Hill)
  • 7/20/17 Calls the protests of her many appearances around the country a "badge of honor," stating to attendants at the American Legislative Council "Our opponents, the defenders of the status quo, only protest those capable of implementing real change. You represent real change." (Hill)(transcript)
  • 8/30/17 Picks Julian Schmoke, formerly of DeVry University, to head the DOE's enforcement unit. DeVry last year settled with FTC for $100 million over charges that it ran deceptive advertisements. (Politico)
  • 9/7/17 Announces a plan to revamp Obama-era guidance for colleges and universities on how to handle sexual assaults on campus, narrowing the definition of sexual assault and adding more scrutiny to the claims of victims. (Hill)
  • 9/12/17 While on a "Rethink School" tour, addresses kids at a back-to-school speech and calls school a "mundane malaise that dampens dreams, dims horizons and denies futures,"  and that there is no such thing as an "education system." (WaPo)
  • 10/21/17 DOE rescinds 72 policy documents that outline the rights of students with disabilities as part of a Trump administration effort to eliminate regulations, 63 from the Office of Special Education Programs and 9 from the Rehabilitation Services Administration. (ChicagoTribune)
  • 11/22/17 Announces consideration to limit the scope of civil rights investigations at schools from investigating "systemic" issues, as well as keeping any investigative findings hidden from students and parents involved in a discrimination complaint. (Hill)
  • 2/26/18 The DOE takes steps to shield student loan collection companies by limiting the power of state regulators over their methods and activities. (Politico)
  • 3/1/18 Issues new guideline on how schools should investigate discrimination cases, eliminating all mention of "systemic" investigations, eliminating an appeals process for students who claim discrimination and gives those students less time to provide evidence to investigators before dismissing a claim. (Politico)(CaseProcessingManual PDF)
  • 3/7/18 Visits Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of the shooting that left 17 dead on Valentine's Day three weeks before. It is reported that she: is flanked by armed guards, does not take questions from students, and meets with a select handful of students and no educators. (USNews)
  • 3/12/18 Bombs an interview with Lesley Stahl on the program 60 minutes, demonstrating a lack of knowledge on a variety of education-related topics and equivocating on her proposed solutions, and admits to having never visited a low-performing school during her tenure. (NPR)
  • 6/5/18 Tells a Senate committee that the federal commission on school safety set up after the Parkland, FL shooting will not focus on the role guns play in school violence. (NYT)
  • 6/4/18 Tells Congress that schools should be able to decide whether to report undocumented students to immigration authorities, conflicting with currently existing laws, including the 1982 Supreme Court decision Plyler v. Doe which ruled that undocumented immigrants are entitled to a public education. (WaPo)
  • 7/25/18 Proposes curtailing Obama administration loan forgiveness rules for students defrauded by for-profit colleges, requiring that student borrowers show they have fallen into hopeless financial straits or prove that their colleges knowingly deceived them. (NYT)
  • 8/10/18 Announces that she plans to fully repeal a rule that targeted for-profit colleges and certificate programs that failed ot prepare students for "gainful employment" and required that they publish truthful information on their student debt numbers and post-graduation salaries. (CNN)
  • 9/12/18 Loses a lawsuit against 19 states and Washington, D.C. which accused DOE of wrongly delaying implementation of Obama-era regulations meant to protect students who took out loans to attend college from predatory practices. (Bloomberg)
  • 11/28/18 Is reported that only 26 borrowers have been approved out of about 34,000 applicants for a public loan forgiveness program, even after Congress recently authorized $350 million to help fix the program. (CNBC)
  • 3/27/19 Proposes de-funding the Special Olympics to help fund the U.S.-Mexico border wall. (Insider)
  • 3/29/19 Claims that larger class sizes are actually better for students than smaller class sizes. (ThinkProgress)
  • 3/29/19 Data reveals that DeVos's department delayed loan foregiveness to students for several months despite a court order to do so immediately (CNN)
  • 5/6/19 Suggests that teachers should go on strike in order to resolve their salary grievances, saying in part: "I think it's important that adults have adult disagreements on adult time, and that they not ultimately hurt kids in the process." (Hill)
  • 5/16/19 The head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Kathy Kraninger, reveals in a letter that the Dept. of Education is roadblocking efforts to police the student loan industry. (NPR)(the letter)
  • 5/25/19 Fifty one attorneys general call on DeVos to cancel disabled 42,000 veterans' student debt. (USAToday)
  • 10/8/19 Federal judge threatens DeVos with jail after she continuously refuses to comply with court orders to continue with a student loan case. (Forbes)
  • 10/24/19 Receives a $100,000 fine from a federal judge for violating an order to stop collecting on loans owed by students from a defunct for-profit chain of colleges. (NYT)