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Friday, August 17, 2018

Trump and DeVos are moving on a radical anti-student agenda

Trump and DeVos are moving on a radical anti-student agenda

Anti-student agenda at Education Department under DeVos is Trump's most radical move
The Trump Education Department is operating like a K Street lobbying firm. Betsy DeVos now wants your tax dollars to fund for-profit colleges that defraud students.

A week ago, on a sleepy August Friday in Washington, Betsy DeVos took what is her most radical step yet. The Education Department proposed to eliminate — not just weaken, as many people had expected — so-called “gainful employment” guidelines  that cut off federal student loans to colleges if the majority of graduates earned so little that they were not able to pay off their loans.
Under the DeVos proposal, for-profit colleges could use any trick in the book to lure in students with grandiose images of career success, charge them far above the actual cost of instruction, and leave them steeped in debt and unable to find a good paying job. And that’s exactly what will happen.

The gainful employment rules, like the DeVos plan last month to limit loan relief for defrauded students, were designed in response to a long history of predatory recruiting and abuse in the for-profit college sector. When I was in the Obama administration, we thoughtschools like Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institutes should be held accountable for trapping students — often vulnerable people like veterans, low-wage workers and first-generation college-goers — in programs that give them worthless degrees.

For-profit colleges have a history of abuse

At the very least, taxpayers shouldn’t be propping up these predatory schools in the form of billions of dollars in federal student aid flowing to for-profit colleges. In putting a measure of accountability into a largely unregulated, scandal-ridden sector, the gainful employment rules were a baseline minimum standard of consumer and taxpayer protection.  
Betsy DeVos thinks students are just not being good shoppers, but the real problem is that the federal government enables and endorses career programs that are way overpriced. By how much? A whopping 78 percent, according to economists who compared tuition at training programs where federal aid was available to those where it was not. To for-profit schools, the amount of aid available is a signal of the price they should charge for tuition, regardless of the underlying costs. Taking every penny maximizes profits, after all. The gainful employment rule would have repaired that problematic incentive.
The Education Department would make it so that even if schools cheat students, it is the student who must navigate a byzantine process and prove that the school acted with malicious intent. And if a borrower succeeds in that near impossible feat, they’ll be granted only partial relief on their loans. Say you’re buried in debt and can’t earn enough to dig out? Too bad, you should have done a better job recognizing charlatans and researching default and earnings data before enrolling. 
Betsy DeVos insists that the gainful employment rule unfairly targets for-profit schools. But by eliminating the rules, for-profit colleges will now be held to lower standards than public and nonprofit schools, which have strict financial controls to prevent the misuse of federal funds. Those financial controls, n determining an institution’s incentives, make a big difference.
As the Century Foundation revealed this year, of the more than 130,000 borrowers who have filed fraud complaints with the Education Department, more than 98 percent involved for-profit colleges. Put differently, students who enrolled at a for-profit college in recent years were 1,000 times more likely to file a fraud claim than someone who enrolled at a public university.
The Trump administration’s proposal is sure to lead to a repeat of the scandals that have besieged the federal student loan program time and again, harming hundreds of Continue reading: Trump and DeVos are moving on a radical anti-student agenda

Fewer and Fewer States Escaping School Privatization's Reach

Fewer and Fewer States Escaping School Privatization's Reach

Fewer and Fewer States Escaping School Privatization’s Reach

According to a 2017 national poll, a strong majority of public school parents give the traditional public schools in their neighborhoods either an A or a B – higher grades than they have given in years. The same survey also found that the majority of the public believes that lack of funding is the biggest problem facing schools today.

While creating and supporting great public schools should be the focus of lawmakers across the country, the reality is quite different. The commitment in state legislatures to the “great equalizer” that is public education has eroded quite dramatically.

That is the sobering conclusion of a recent report released by the Network for Public Education and the Schott Foundation titled “Grading the States: A Report Card on the Nation’s Commitment to Public Schools.”

“Grading the States” examines the far reach of the school privatization movement and its impact on public schools and students. Across the nation, states have implemented and expanded charter schools that are unaccountable to the public and voucher programs that have siphoned off public taxpayer money to pay for private school tuition.
The proponents of these policies and the corporate interests that bankroll them insist their goal is to improve the quality of education – a dubious claim, the report states, “in the face of the reality that too often there is little to no public accountability, fiscal transparency, or maintenance of civil rights protections for students in privatized programs.”
Private schools and charters are not designed to serve all students, but this hasn’t stopped these programs from establishing a strong foothold in communities across the country. Every state except three have charter schools and 28 states have in place some sort of school voucher program. The trend – which shows little sign of letting up – has sown exclusivity and division into the educational system and depleted public schools of valuable resources.
“Although parents always have a right to send their children to private schools at their own expense,” the report states, “they are not and never can be the model for educating all of this nation’s children, nor should they be supported by public dollars.”

The State Report Card

Grading the States Report Card
The researchers assigned all 50 states and the District of Columbia with a letter grade, deducting points based on the presence of charter schools and voucher or “neo-voucher” programs (merely voucher programs tweaked to circumvent legal restrictions against giving public money to private schools through tuition tax credits and education savings accounts.)
Twenty-two states received overall grades between a C and a B+. Six states and the Continue reading: Fewer and Fewer States Escaping School Privatization's Reach

What Is DFER (Democrats for Education Reform)? | Diane Ravitch's blog

What Is DFER (Democrats for Education Reform)? | Diane Ravitch's blog

What Is DFER (Democrats for Education Reform)?

Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) was created by a group of guys who work as hedge fund managers. Some are Democrats, other are Republicans. They support charter schools and high-stakes testing. They never support public schools. They support Teach for America. They think that teachers should be evaluated by the test scores of their students, even though research overwhelmingly shows that this method is a failure (see the recent RAND-AIR report on the flop of the Gates-funded demonstration of evaluating teachers by test scores). They believe in merit pay, even though merit pay has never worked anywhere. There is no evidence that any active member of DFER ever attended a public school, ever taught in a public school, or ever sent his children to a public school. DFER doesn’t like public schools. Like Betsy DeVos, which it pretends to oppose, DFER believes in free-market reform of schools. If I am wrong, I hope that one of these hedge fund managers contacts me to let me know.

DFER loves corporate charter chains and doesn’t like local democratic control of schools. They see nothing unsavory about out-of-state billionaires buying an election for their favorite candidate, even in a local school board election.
Here is the DFER list for this year’s election. Cory Booker and Michael Bennet are perennial favorites of DFER. I don’t know if Congressman Bobby Scott of Virginia is aligned with their philosophy or if DFER is trying to establish a relationship. He is chair of the House Education Committee in the Congress. His predecessor, Congressman George Miller of California, was fully aligned with DFER’s views and was richly rewarded with fundraisers, even when he didn’t have an opponent. His former chief of staff, Charles Barone, now runs the DFER office in D.C.

Suffice it to say that DFER pays no attention to research that does not  Continue reading: What Is DFER (Democrats for Education Reform)? | Diane Ravitch's blog