Betsy DeVos

Teachers Unions and Title IX Zealots Want to Destroy Betsy DeVos

Trump's would-be Education Secretary isn't an extremist-her critics are.

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DeVos
JIM LO SCALZO/EPA/Newscom

Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump's pick for Secretary of Education, doesn't want to destroy public education. Public educators—and Title IX zealots—want to destroy Betsy DeVos. Passed in 1972, Title IX is the federal statute banning gender-based discrimination in any educational institution that receives federal funding. It effectively covers all public K-12 schools, many private elementary and secondary schools, and effectively all colleges, public or private.

Among DeVos's staunchest critics are so-called victims' rights groups. Know Your IX, an activist organization that works to diminish due process protections for students accused of sexual assault on university campuses, is tweeting under the hashtag #DearBetsy in hopes of pressuring her to continue the Education Department's misguided and legally suspect campaign against fairness and justice in university misconduct hearings.

"Ms. DeVos must fully explain whether she supports the radical view that it should be more difficult for campus sexual assault victims to receive justice," Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat and member of the committee that will vote on DeVos's confirmation, told Politico.

Title IX supporters portray their critics as radicals who believe that every rapist should go free and that every woman is a liar. Of course, this is not the case. The Education Department's Office for Civil Rights's (OCR) interpretation of Title IX has come under fire precisely because OCR has taken a radical position: It believes that university students accused of sexual misconduct should be left with very little means of proving their innocence before poorly trained bureaucrats. It is OCR's opinion—not Congress' or the Supreme Court's—that federal law requires universities to investigate wrongdoing in accordance with a definition of sexual harassment so broad that it threatens academic freedom and free speech while denying fundamental due process to the accused.

That's why civil liberties organizations including the American Association of University Professors and PEN America have expressed serious concerns about OCR's handling of Title IX under President Obama. These are not radical organizations, and they consist mostly of liberal thinkers who want to protect free speech and due process for all.

All that said, it's unclear whether victims' advocates have anything to worry about—DeVos's opinion on Title IX is not widely known. She has met with Sen. James Lankford, a Republican and major critic of OCR, to discuss the subject, but that's about it.

Devos is a donor to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), and this fact has activists particularly worried:

The donations are "a red flag," said Lisa Maatz, the top policy adviser at the American Association of University Women, which advocates for strict enforcement of Title IX, the federal law that governs sex discrimination, harassment and sexual assault on college campuses. "In the absence of an actual record … I think these kinds of donations take on even greater importance, because we have to rely on her contributions to inform us on particular issues."

FIRE is primarily a free speech organization, and DeVos might have donated $10,000 to the group for reasons other than a desire to eviscerate Title IX. But even if DeVos shares FIRE's attitude toward Title IX (and I hope that she does), this would not make her a radical about the issue of campus sexual assault. As FIRE explains:

The basic protections for which FIRE argues—the right to the active participation of counsel; the right to see the evidence in one's case and to meaningfully question witnesses; and the right to an impartial tribunal, among others—benefit all parties and do not impede the pursuit of justice. Outside of the campus context, nobody would argue that reducing due process protections, including the burden of proof, is necessary to secure a just outcome.

Public university students who are accused of misconduct deserve a fair hearing and a chance to defend themselves: This is the idea that Title IX loyalists deem radical. If Betsy DeVos wanted to take a second look at OCR's directives, this would not make her an extremist. It would put her in the company of countless civil liberties groups that believe OCR is currently operating outside the law.

But the crusade to portray DeVos as a dangerous ideologue is mulit-faceted. Critics have not been content to hound her for possibly thinking that OCR has overstepped. They also accuse her of wanting to destroy the public education system entirely. Sensing that an education secretary who supports school choice reform is a threat to their political power, teachers unions and their allies are relentlessly insisting that DeVos is some kind of radical anarcho-capitalist or religious fanatic when it comes to private schools.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, had this to say: "In nominating DeVos, Trump makes it loud and clear that his education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding and destroying public education in America. Every American should be concerned that she would impose her reckless and extreme ideology on the nation."

Of course, there's nothing extreme or reckless about DeVos's support for school choice reforms. School choice is broadly popular, well-liked by fair-minded policy experts, and draws support from Democrats as well as Republicans. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, a rising leader in the Democratic Party, was a supporter of school choice, at least until recently. He formerly served with DeVos on the board of the Alliance for School Choice, in fact. Here's what Booker had to say about school choice, according to Breitbart News:

I cannot ever stand up and stand against a parent having options because I benefited from my parents having options. And when people tell me they're against school choice, whether it's the Opportunity Scholarship Act or charter schools, I look at them and say, "As soon as you're telling me you're willing to send your kid to a failing school in my city or in Camden or Trenton, then I'll be with you."

Now that it's politically inconvenient for Booker to say anything that would perturb teachers unions—huge power brokers in the Democratic Party—Booker has changed his tune. He claims to have "serious concerns" about DeVos.

It's not just the Democratic Party stumping for the teachers unions. The New York Times, ever the enemy of a well-educated populace, accused DeVos of "damaging" the fabric of public education in her home state of Michigan, where she spent considerable money promoting charter schools:

She has poured money into charter schools advocacy, winning legislative changes that have reduced oversight and accountability. About 80 percent of the charter schools in Michigan are operated by for-profit companies, far higher than anywhere else. She has also argued for shutting down Detroit public schools, with the system turned over to charters or taxpayer money given out as vouchers for private schools. In that city, charter schools often perform no better than traditional schools, and sometimes worse.

That Times editorial relies on reporting from the Times' Kate Zernike, who claims that DeVos is a "believer in a freer market than even some free market economists would endorse" and "pushed back on any regulation as too much regulation."

DeVos did nothing of the sort, as National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru explains:

You might think, then, that DeVos got legislation enacted that, well, reduced oversight of charter schools. The linked article, although biased against DeVos, makes no such claim. Rather, it shows that DeVos intervened to force the modification of legislation about charter schools. She opposed the creation of a commission that would have given traditional public schools a say in which charter-school networks could expand and which charter schools could continue to operate. (More on that dispute here and here.) The legislation that was eventually enacted omitted that provision and instead "allow[ed] the state to close the schools at the bottom of existing state rankings." There was, in other words, no reduction in oversight and accountability.

The Times is also waging war on established facts about charter schools. Studies consistently show that not all charters succeed, but providing kids with more education options leads to better outcomes in many cases. The Times editorial states that charter schools in Detroit "often perform no better than public schools, and sometimes worse." That's a curious misreading of the data, though, according to The Cato Institute's Jason Bedrick:

To claim, as the NYT does, that Detroit "charter schools often perform no better than traditional schools, and sometimes worse" based on these figures is a highly distorted way of presenting the data. It's equally true to say "Detroit charter schools almost always perform as well or better than traditional schools."

The Times has already proven that it has no interest in telling the truth about charter schools Just recently, a University of Michigan education professor was given room in the paper of record to argue that economists are generally skeptical of free market alternatives to public education. But the data she used to make this point was both out of date and misrepresented in the article. According to the most recent survey data, 44 percent of economists thought a voucher system would leave most students better off, 34 percent weren't sure, and just 5 percent thought not. Among economists with an opinion on the subject, the consensus overwhelmingly favored school choice.

That's because school choice is fundamentally un-radical. Education reformers don't want to defund public education and bring back child labor, they want to provide publicly funded alternatives to government-run schools that have failed their students, who are typically the poorest and least-privileged students.

In the policy battle over school choice, it's the teachers unions who are the radicals. They believe that they are entitled to an unbreakable monopoly on providing K-12 education, in defiance of a wealth of evidence suggesting that such a system is marred by bad incentives and serves only to protect public employees at the expense of kids and families. They smear any suggestion that competition could improve the system as an attempt to destroy public schools.

No, Betsy DeVos doesn't want to destroy public schools. Nor is there any reason to believe she wants to turn rapists loose on college campuses. Those who say otherwise are the real extremists.

NEXT: Backpage Backed Into Corner Over Adult Ads. Is Government's Goal a Goodbye to Sex Trafficking, or Free Speech?

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  1. “Ms. DeVos must fully explain whether she supports the radical view that it should be more difficult for campus sexual assault victims to receive justice,”

    More difficult than what? Are you suggesting that DeVos supports gun-control laws and restrictions on carrying guns on college campuses?

    1. wow in your fucking prog reality, someone having due process and being innocent until proven guilty is ‘radical’? Go fuck yourself

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  2. Robby, Title IX was not passed to ban gender -based discrimination. You will not find the word “gender” in Title IX. It bans sex discrimination. Sex is not gender.

    I wonder how many times you will make this “mistake”, because this isn’t the first time.

    1. But doesn’t “sex” engender “gender”?

      1. All 52 of them. unfortunately I’m in the minority- CIS hetero.

      2. not according to the left

    2. Good catch. Shame on you, Robbie. Cite the law as it’s written or go write for a place where facts never get in the way of messaging like the Washington Post or something.

  3. “Ms. DeVos must fully explain whether she supports the radical view that it should be more difficult for campus sexual assault victims to receive justice,” Sen. Bob Casey [said.]

    Sen. Bob Casey must fully explain whether he supports the radical view that academia should get TF out of “providing justice” for sexual assault victims.

    1. Casey is up for reelection in 2018, the Pa. teachers union is very powerful and financially supportive of their friends. Casey wants to show he’s their friend. Whomever the GOP runs against him will be portrayed as wanting eight graders to drop out and be put to work in the coal mines.

      1. Paleontology enthusiasts?

      2. My dad was a tree surgeon, when he dropped out of eighth grade seventy years ago, to help his family. He worked in the coal mine in central Illinois, later. He had twin sons, while in boot camp, that kept him out of the Korean war. My twin brother is an engineer with a masters in engineering technology. I am a retired general surgeon, boarded in pain management, as well. It might be good for a few people in the “me generation” learn what a good education really means! My parents always encouraged us to finish high school and “get an education”! It meant that my brother and I jumped up a couple of levels in the income tax brackets.

  4. Lisa Maatz, the top policy adviser at the American Association of University Women, which advocates for strict enforcement of Title IX,

    I’m pretty sure she supports an extremely liberal enforcement of Title IX. “Strict enforcement” implies rigid adherence to the letter of the law.

    1. No. Much of modern Title IX enforcement is based on things the Administration made up as if it was written in Title IX. Strict adherence to the law as written would therefore preclude enforcement of the made-up stuff.

  5. But free speech is hate speech! Plus, it’s icky! It makes us poor precious little snowflakes melt!

  6. The malevolent, but spectacular, keys to mind carving provide total entrance into the theater of mass mental death and engineered resurrection.

    Entire countries are shaped at collective brain stem.

    Imagining a time when this strategic quest isn’t warred over requires either suspension of grave realizations and its accompanying madness or a planet coming to its senses.

    1. Shit. I lost or destroyed my brain stem.Is biofeedback still a thing?

  7. “Teachers Unions and Title IX Zealots Want to Destroy Betsy DeVos”

    I think the teacher’s unions and the title 9 zealots are about to get the fuckin’ they deserve. It is past due. Blowback’s a bitch.

    1. “about to get the fuckin’ they deserve.”
      Yeah, and they *asked* for it!

      1. But they were drunk on power and couldn’t consent!

    2. They don’t understand elections have consequences…..

  8. It needs to be pointed out, loudly and often, that supporters of on-campus kangaroo courts for accused sex offenders are, as a practical matter – working to ensure that on-campus rapists will never be successfully prosecuted. Once an accused rapist has been through the on-campus ‘process’ any case against him is irretrievably tainted and getting a conviction in a court of law should be impossible, even if he were as obviously guilty as a cat in a goldfish bowl.

    1. ‘Loudly and often’ shrinks under the volume of professional histrionics.

      A person of reason respects your ‘loudly and often’ but brutal realism suggests otherwise – ‘reason’ repeated clearly and with intense decibel holds zero sway within the profane collectivist mudhole of emotionalized faux justice.

      Hyper-reactionaries are sterilized simply through the constitutional removal of their tools: shit-ridden laws.

      Debate, reasoned conversation, intellectually-empathetic appraisal and rebuttal, vociferous clever mouthfests- all worthless in the wavy imaginative world of politicking ultra-feelers.

      1. …the profane collectivist mudhole of emotionalized faux justice

        Agile Cyborg, I love you more and more with each post you write.

        1. Fella’s certainly got a way with the English language. Or is having his way with the English language. Can’t tell for sure.

    2. It seems the serious cases all go to police first. It’s just when the the police don’t find sufficient evidence that the kangaroo courts take over.

      1. You may be right, but I seem to recall reading at least one reason article about a case where there was serious doubt about the accused’s innocence. There was not, however, much doubt that he was going to win his lawsuit for the way his civl rights had been violated, nor that any attempt to convict him in an actual law court would quickly fail because of the way the college in question had mangled the case.

        The Title IX fanatics are PRO-RAPIST.

        1. yeah, I don’t get this. if the guy is a rapist, why is expulsion an adequate punishment?

    3. It’s all good, bro.

  9. “…the Education Department’s misguided and legally suspect campaign against fairness and justice…

    “The Times is also waging war on established facts about charter schools….

    “The Times has already proven that it has no interest in telling the truth about charter schools….

    “…such a system is marred by bad incentives and serves only to protect public employees at the expense of kids and families….”

    What happened to Robby “to be sure” Soave, who goes out of his way to affirm the Good Intentions of the progs?

    A quick Google search shows that we recently had a full moon. Which confirms my hypothesis that, every full moon, Robby turns into Buford the No-Nonsense Good Ol’ Boy.

    Robby will be shocked once he finds out what Buford has been writing under his byline.

    1. It’s Friday the 13th, duh…

  10. That’s because school choice is fundamentally un-radical. Education reformers don’t want to defund public education and bring back child labor

    I guess that makes me a “radical”. I recognize that theft is always wrong.

    I also recognize that government using force-of-arms against people who want to make a non-aggressive transaction is also wrong. If the parents (guardians) are OK with the child working at something, what does government have to do with it? Also, child labor doesn’t imply children aren’t educated, that’s a false dilemma.

    1. +1 Beijing Circus

    2. IIRC family farms and businesses are exempt from child labor laws.

      So if you want small fingers in your factory, you have to make them yourself.

  11. Education reformers don’t want to defund public education and bring back child labor

    Then I guess these reformers are no friend of mine.

    1. Is it really “child labor” when they’re your slaves?

      Though I do afford my orphan slaves an education. Training new ones can be expensive; if they can read warning labels, I’ll be able to keep them around longer.

  12. The GOP holds Congress and the White House. And there’s not a soul in the country who is going to change their vote against a GOP candidate for insufficient fealty to the teachers’ unions and social justice mobs. Anyone who would is already voting for the Democrats. Fuck these pro-kangaroo court assholes.

    1. It’s about turnout. Clinton lost PA because of a lack of Dem turnout. Not a lack of registered voters who identify as Dem.

      It’s important that the GOP candidate not motivate the Dem base.

  13. I’d like Ms DeVos to say “Senator Casey, you can take ‘must explain’ and shove it up your ass”. Probably won’t happen though.

    1. Someone should frivolously accuse Bob Casey of having raped them on campus wherever he went to college and see if his head explodes.

  14. I was sort of hoping for someone to just shut down the entire Department of Education. For starters.

    1. Or Jeff Sessions.

  15. Disgusting that SJW’s and their ilk think contributing to FIRE, an organization fighting for student rights – due process and free speech, is a NEGATIVE thing

    We’ve seen countless examples of how these kangaroo courts are a travesty, the standard of evidence (preponderance) is way too low – my admin needs to prove (serious) discipline (to include termination) by CLEAR AND CONVINCING evidence.

    that’s the standard to fire a cop; the same standard should apply to taint a student with SEXUAL ASSAULT and discipline (to include expulsion) him for it, at least at a public university.

    The same leftists who CLAIM to be for due process and suspect rights throw ALL that shit away when it comes to campus sexual assault – we are supposed to believe the accuser w/o question, and deny the accused the right even to CONFRONT his accuser which is THE most basic right of due process. and these Title IX Kangaroo Courts don’t generally even allow that.

    and the idea that college administrators are COMPETENT to investigate sexual assault is LAUGHABLE.

    and of course the OBAMA admin edict that Title IX requires such “courts” is based on their ridiculous interpretation is – just that.

    and remember, if you support due process rights – you are an enemy of wimmin and an enabler of sexual assault and other such nonsense.

    I like DeVos more and more

    1. You don’t understand. For a “progressive” free speech is vital as long as it is speech they agree with. Otherwise, it is racist, hate, misogyny, white privileged, male cisgendered, patriarchy speech.

  16. Why is inserting random tweets into the body of articles any more newsworthy/quotable material than the observations made by Agile Cyborg or Crusty Juggler?

    1. You bring up a valid point, GIL.

      I propose that H&R article bodies start including random quotes of the commentariat.

      1. If it’s truly random, I expect some hilarity when the process pulls quotes from those spambots.

  17. I absolutely cannot believe the amount of stupidity when it comes to discussing school choice. EVERY! SINGLE! PARENT! chooses which college/university to send their child to, some private, some public, some even for profit. How can a sane person argue that that is appropriate for college age students, but not for EL-HI? Unless of course these “anti-chosers” want to create a society of under-educated citizens that must increasingly rely on government for support. But of course that could not be the case, could it Democrats?

    1. Every middle class (and up) family chooses which public school district to live in.

      Every house listing shows the school and the ratings, unless it sucks.

      So, we already have school choice. But only for people who can afford it.

      1. Exactly. Keep bringing this up for the anti-school choice (pro public workers union parasites) people.

  18. Current OCR interpretation of Title IX is clear sexual discrimination.

    The accused is always male. The accuser is always female.

    OCR is working to curtail the rights of the accused, for the benefit of the accuser.

    Ironic but there it is.

  19. The language on charter school performance is straight propaganda. Baghdad Bob level idiocy. E.g., I can describe a 11-5 NFL playoff bound team as “often performing worse than their opponents”

  20. It believes that university students accused of sexual misconduct should be left with very little means of proving their innocence before poorly trained bureaucrats.

    And there it is again.

    That’s not how it’s supposed to work. Fuck every single person who believes otherwise.

  21. They also accuse her of wanting to destroy the public education system entirely.

    In my dreams.

  22. They also accuse her of wanting to destroy the public education system entirely.

    We can only hope.

  23. Just imagine the field day the progs would have had at OCR if Hillary had gotten in. Sessions is a real drag still, but this DeVos pick is sounding too good to be true

  24. they criticize her because her husband and her were involved in a CHARTER school and thus the enemy of public schools-

    pro tip: Charter Schools ARE public schools

  25. IIRC some Scandanavian country, maybe Sweden, is wholly or mostly on a voucher system, and has been for decades. If so, this should be mentioned most often by school choice advocates.

    1. Oops–“more often,” not “most often.”

  26. I would just like to see that our so-called educators could put education back into our education system! Seeing what they so are easily mass-producing these days, namely, snowflakes, is not a very good advertisement!

  27. Instead of saying public schools why not use the proper terminology?

    Government education monopoly has a much more accurate ring.

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  29. Disappointed by Booker’s flip. I was kinda hoping he was the Rand Paul of the Democratic Party, but no dice. Ron Wyden is more principled.

  30. Just to clarify something incorrect in the article. Federal Title IX does not ban “Gender” based discrimination. It bans discrimination based on Biological Sex. As the Law is rather specifically worded. There is currently a case coming before the US Supreme Court arguing whether or not the Department of Education grossly overstepped its boundaries and granted themselves powers and authority not in fact authorized in title IX. There is no mention of Gender in the US Federal Register. And no basis to use Gender as a regulatory standard under currently existing legislation.

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  33. Vouchers/charters, when done right, can be very effective. But is this DeVos’s goal? Or is it to open the door to openly religious schools to indoctrinate children?

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  35. “Ms. DeVos must fully explain whether she supports the radical view that it should be more difficult for campus sexual assault victims to receive justice,” Sen. Bob Casey

    I kind of always thought justice would be putting a rapist in prison. Apparently, kicking them out of school is enough?

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  37. just got done reading some of the social media posts from some of my more liberal acquaintances. seems that she’s being excoriated and so obviously unqualified that she clearly only got the job because she gave someone (i wonder who they think that is??) a blowjob.

    putting aside how they know that she gives a good enough blowjob to get a job like that (i mean, there are blowjobs and then there are blowjobs…), from what i’ve seen their definition of excoriated can only possibly mean that she’s not given democrats the answers they want to hear. that also raises questions about their education, since that clearly not what that word means. but they insist this isn’t about party.

    supposedly, school choice only exists because public schools are bad, and public schools wouldn’t be bad if there wasn’t school choice. and apparently, school choice is only for students who perform poorly, but has nothing to do with getting a better quality education than might otherwise be provided across the street for otherwise good students.

    of course, they also think she will abolish financial aid (only the rich will be educated!), being mean to disable children (she’s probably racist too!), and an unwillingness to have the federal government micromanage private schools (unaccountable!). as a non-libertarian, i kind of like devos. what really ironic is i know some of these people sent their children to private schools.

  38. I am stunned that, for a woman who openly opposes public schools, support for due process is the red flag. Especially coming from the left in a society with incarceration rates eclipsing those of dictatorships like Iran. Is the left not on the side of clemency and civil rights? And isn’t the American right more on the side of penalism and severe consequences? Or did this change while I was busy… blinking or something?

  39. So, if vouchers are the solution to failing inner-city schools, then can someone explain to me how:
    1) An inner-city school (getting the same $/head as the Beverly Hills school) is going to lure a teacher to *their* campus instead of the one in the rich-neighborhood without offering them more money? And, if they do, how do they do so without skimping in some other area?
    2) If they can’t lure the same teaching talent to their school, then how do you ensure that the inner-city kids have equal access to the good schools when: a) The school is farther away from them than it is from the rich kids, b) their parents are less likely to have a car, c) their parents are less likely to have the time (much less a nanny) to drive their kids there?
    3) How do you ensure that the inner-city kids have equal access when the good schools are free to turn the poor kids away… (citing that they just *happen* to be “full” whenever one of the poor kids applies {think stuff like that doesn’t happen? Even happens with leftie-leaning AirBnB}… when the real reason is “we don’t want your dumb kid dragging out test scores down”)?

    And if your answers to those questions are “I don’t know *how* we really ensure that”, then can you help me make the jump from seeing this as “as long as *I* get *mine*, I really don’t care what happens to them” benign neglect of the urban poor to seeing it as “Oh, this is really going to help those city kids… I’m sure of it… sorta”, because I can’t get there on my own.

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