Betsy DeVos & the Future Direction of Higher Ed

Before a rare tie-breaker brought DeVos into her role as Secretary of Education, there was a great deal of discussion surrounding her credentials- or lack thereof- among political and educational leaders, advocates, and citizens alike. Many argued that, while expressing a “willingness to learn” a skill or protocol certainly has merit on some job applications, the bid for Secretary of Education is a likely exception. Nevertheless, we are beginning to gain a clearer picture of where higher education may be headed under a Donald Trump administration.

The Future of Title IX:

Title IX legislation has garnered considerable attention in recent years, as it fights sexual discrimination, harassment, and exclusion within federally-funded education programs, and has recently been expanded to be inclusive of gender identity. Through the 2011 Title IX guidance, the Department of Education has been applying pressure to institutions to actively combat sexual assault on campus. DeVos didn’t seem keen on upholding department guidance during her confirmation hearing, leaving many activists concerned about its future. She did, however, stress the need to protect the rights of both the victim and the accused in sexual assault cases, demanding a review of the current law’s effectiveness in doing so.

Rethinking Student-Debt & Accreditation Standards:

While DeVos doesn’t believe that the fundamental issues of higher education are best addressed through free colleges and debt-elimination initiatives, she has expressed support for alternative avenues through post-secondary education, such as community colleges and vocational programs. Just as the federal student loan program isn’t exactly a no-brainer for the current administration, an overhaul of accreditation processes is to be expected as well. Obama’s gainful employment rule cracked down on all career college programs falling to ensure positive employment outcomes for graduates, effectively identifying numerous culpable for-profit institutions. However, DeVos hopes to lighten up on the finger-pointing and revamp regulatory standards. 

Power in Knowledge and Numbers

Controversy surrounding the appointment of DeVos as Education Secretary has not only sparked a surge in political discourse on social media, but also provoked increased public awareness and knowledgeability of all facets of education. A trend which led thousands of individuals to voice their concerns to representatives and senators, effectively setting the stage for a history-making stalemate. There is power in both knowledge and numbers. Now, more than ever, it is crucial to remain informed, outspoken, and united in efforts to bring about positive change in education.

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Sources Referenced

Berman, J. (2017). What to expect on student debt from Betsy DeVos, the most divisive secretary of education in recent memory. MarketWatch. Retrieved from http://www.marketwatch.com/story/what-to-expect-on-student-debt-from-betsy-devos-the-most-divisive-secretary-of-education-in-recent-memory-2017-02-07

Redden. M. & Siddiqui, S. (2017). Betsy DeVos hearing prompts fears for campus sexual assault protections. The Gaurdian. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/17/betsy-devos-hearing-prompts-fears-for-campus-sexual-assault-protections