The Miseducation of “Betsy DeVoid”

By Julianne Malveaux

Even her boss, the 45th President of the United States, is derisive of Education Secretary Betsey DeVoid, the Devos woman who is devoid, absent, of good sense. She may have even been placed in her position as payback for whatever support her wealthy family provided to the certified public liar of a leader. Education Secretary Betsey DeVoid has used her position to elevate her family’s economic advantage, and she has used her position to punish students whose interests are contrary to her own. She is a prime example of miseducation, and her tenure has been an attack on students. Let me count the ways:

DeVoid has lifted the for-profit college protections that President Barack Obama attempted to regulate. She chose to minimize the regulations that curtailed for-profit college exploitation. While the Obama administration attempted to make students, who attended for-profit colleges whole, DeVoid has erred in favored of the rip-off schools. Many for-profit colleges only exist because students take out federal loans. When these schools fail, so do the students. Why shouldn’t the federal government pick up the slack from schools that falsely market themselves as a bridge from poverty to opportunity?

Blessedly, a federal judge just ruled that DeVoid’s attempts to delay Obama-era regulations to provide students with relief was wrong. The Borrower Defense rule, which allows students who borrowed to attend shady schools to apply for relief, had been delayed by the Department of Education, but US District Judge Randolph Moss ruled that the Department’s actions are “procedurally incorrect.” The lawsuit against DeVoid and the Department of Education was brought by 19 states and the District of Columbia. Will DeVos learn her lesson? Probably not. This is part of her miseducation.

DeVoid has weakened regulations around sexual harassment and sexual abuse of students. She feels that those who are accused of harassment should have more rights than they are already offered, and that the arc of justice should bend away from the young women who have been raped and abused. DeVoid is devoid of compassion when she raises the bar for those who accuse fellow students and colleagues of sexual assault or harassment. Is there room for adjudication? Probably. Should those who have to encounter their rapists or harassers on campus be protected? Absolutely.

DeVoid has stacked her staff with proponents of charter schools and for-profit education, which is the equivalent of having the fox guard the henhouse. She has done this boldly, unapologetically, and with the blessing of her boss, the 45thPresident, who has also been woefully miseducated. It is likely that the trustees of the University of Pennsylvania cringe every time he says that he went to the Wharton School of Business.

DeVoid has proposed rolling back rules on accrediting colleges and schools, raising concerns that she plans to water down the quality of education nationally. This is consistent with her family’s involvement in for-profit education. To be sure, many Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have run afoul of the accrediting agencies, such as SACS (the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools), which seem to be stricter on HBCUs than on other schools, but none in the HBCU community support the DeVoid method of changing accreditation rules. DeVoid is using the Department of Education as a playground for her family’s monied interests.

Under Betsy DeVoid, the staff of the Department of Education is down 13 percent. Some may see this as a good thing, and every federal agency can probably stand to be streamlined some. But if the staff reduction means less enforcement of important regulations, then DeVoid will have accomplished her purpose, which seems to be to turn education into an unregulated free for all, and a profit opportunity for her family and others who see education as a commodity, not a service.

I feel that DeVoid has been miseducated, but perhaps she has been all too well educated in the ways of 45, who promised to disrupt government as we know it. With his horrid approach to governing, and his flippant disregard for the lives of US citizens (witness his crude and inaccurate comments about deaths in Puerto Rico), 45 has certainly been disruptive. And the minion he has described as “ditsy” has been equally destructive to students and schools at the Department of Education.

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