Betsy DeVos Punishes Students Defrauded By For-Profit Schools

In another signal that corporations and businesses in Trump’s America are going to be allowed to rape and pillage without restrictions, and in many cases with government assistance, a report by an Education Department inspector general reveals that committing fraud is an accepted and worthwhile endeavor in the for-profit education business.

On Monday past, an inspector general reported that with a for-profit education crusader, Betsy DeVos, and a for-profit “fraudulent college” operator, Donald Trump running the government,  the process of “canceling student loan debt of the people who have been systematically defrauded by for-profit schools” has come to a screeching halt.

DeVos will not implement rules that aided defrauded students by speeding up the debt cancellation process to stop interest from accruing and destroying students and their family’s credit. DeVos claims she can’t help students because she is still looking for a means of “redoing” the debt cancellation  process that still lets failed and cheating for-profit schools off the hook. Under DeVos, none of the defrauded students have had their debt canceled despite tens-of –thousands of legitimate claims for relief.

Spending 10 months “seeking a means of redoing” the debt-cancelation process is code for DeVos intent to do nothing to help Americans cheated by the people she champions as education’s salvation; for profit schools. DeVos said canceling the debts creates a cost to taxpayers she claims shouldn’t be responsible for helping students cheated by for profit schools. The concept of holding the for-profit schools responsible for “breaking the law” and defrauding “hundreds-of-thousands” of students is simply out of the question. This is Trump’s America now and the people who were defrauded by for-profit schools have to be penalized and pay the price for being defrauded; the for-profit schools get to keep their very substantial profits.

DeVos has gone beyond just foregoing an Obama-era rule to aid a specific group of students cheated by “Corinthian Colleges,” a for-profit outfit that finally collapsed in 2015 after several federal and state investigations into the widespread fraud that touched an untold number of students. There are other “failed schools” guilty of defrauding students that, combined with the Corinthian organization, cheated “hundreds-of-thousands of students” who are left with rapidly accruing interest and loan fees damaging their credit, according to the Education Department inspector general.

In fact, because of DeVos’ inaction,  the defrauded students and their families will “ultimately owe more on a denied discharge than if they had not asked for cancellation and simply continued making payments” for a worthless education, the inspector said. The big problem for the defrauded students is that because their “education” is for all intents and purposes worthless, their job prospects are non-existent making outrageous loan payments  nearly impossible. It is why the “cancelation process” was put in place to begin with and it is also why many states have been pushing the DeVos-Trump education syndicate to cancel the loans.

Attorneys general from several states are attempting to pressure DeVos to help the defrauded students they rightly say “cannot afford to repay often-large amounts because the ‘for-profit’ schools DeVos champions either didn’t  provide adequate training much less an education or a diploma.” The inspector general also reported finding nothing in the DeVos Education Department resembling an “information system” and complained that he was forced to “manually retrieve claims data.” That is a change from the previous administration’s efforts to help students cheated by for-profit schools.

During the Obama Administration the Education Department received 46,274 claims for “discharging defrauded students’ loans” and had approved 27,986 in a six month period. Since Trump’s poorly-attended inauguration, out of 25,991 applications, DeVos made sure none were discharged. The Inspector General reported that the entire debt cancellation process, no matter over death, fraud or disability, was brought to a halt.

The senior Democrat on the senate education committee, Senator Patty Murray (WA) said:

Hundreds of thousands of students were defrauded and cheated by predatory colleges that broke the law, but today’s report confirms Secretary DeVos tried to shirk her responsibility to these students and shut down the borrower-defense program, leaving them with nowhere to turn.”

This atrocity, and it is an atrocity, is a trend in the current administration that is not completely down to Trump or DeVos, although they are ultimately responsible for this particular abomination. Republicans as a party have demonstrated that they will go to great lengths to give special treatment to big, small and corporate businesses at the expense of the people whether it is eliminating regulations or failing to enforce rules that protect the people, or fund corporate tax cuts with tax hikes on the poor.

There is an easy solution to this particular issue but Republicans, Trump, or DeVos will never even consider putting the burden students are facing on the “predatory, for-profit colleges that broke the law by defrauding and cheating students.” And it is not necessarily that DeVos is “shirking her responsibility to cheated students;” she doesn’t consider the students her responsibility. She is responsible to the church, misogynists, bigots and corporations and if they defraud students the students have to be penalized again.

DeVos has shown throughout her time as the most unqualified member of team Trump that her responsibility is to anti-women men’s groups, anti-LGBTQ religious fanatics, for-profit evangelical madrassas and church-chartered schools; and of course predatory for-profit colleges. If that wasn’t the case she would at the least allow the existing process to cancel the defrauded students’ debts as it was intended; but that would not punish the students.

DeVos’ lack of action does send a powerful message to for-profit schools, corporations, and businesses in general that in Trump’s America they are free to defraud, damage and cheat Americans with impunity; punishment is reserved for the victims as is the typical Republican way.  In DeVos’ case, punishing defrauded students appears to be an integral part of her intent of using the Education Department to “advance the kingdom of god.”

Misogynist Betsy DeVos To Use Title IX For Republicans’ War On Women

The religious Republican war on women was, although relentless, somewhat diminished during President Barack Obama’s 8-year tenure in the White House, but that firewall came to a screeching halt on January 21, 2017. It is an understatement to say Donald Trump is a misogynist of the first order, but no more so than the evangelicals he installed in his Cabinet.

Two of Trump’s evangelical department heads are mounting an attack on women in the form of assisting perpetrators of sexual assault to rape with impunity. In fact, it was announced recently that Trump’s unqualified evangelical Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is poised to do as she promised and roll back Title IX protections to better conform to what evangelical men believe is right and proper; free reign over women.

At issue for DeVos is “repealing and replacing” Title IX protections to make it more difficult for victims of rape get a semblance of justice on college campuses. Even before DeVos took aim at Title IX, a “leaked” Department of Justice (DOJ) memo issued exactly six days after evangelical misogynist Jeff Sessions was sworn in as attorney general sought to change policy to favor male sexual abusers.

The DOJ memo’s authors “expressed concern” over the inequities faced by male students accused of sexual assault; one particular “policy shift” should please every misogynist alive and women should be absolutely terrified. The disconcerting recommended changes is that going forward during rape and sexual assault cases:

Every complainant’s sexual history may be introduced at the hearing. Currently, questions about the complainant’s (victim’s) sexual history with anyone other than the accused perpetrator are not permitted.”

That memo by Sessions is old-school misogyny when no matter the circumstances, it was always a woman’s fault that she was raped and men were always victims. The DOJ memo to the Education Department states its purpose is to rectify Title IX’s “disparate and unfair treatment and impact on male students accused of sexual assault.” That so-called “disparate and unfair treatment of male students is an oft-cited complaint of men’s groups renowned for harassing rape victims; the same groups DeVos appealed to for guidance and direction in her effort to “repeal and replace” Title IX’s protection for women.

It is noteworthy, but typical of this administration, that the DOJ’s policy shift violates every state’s rape shield law going back to the 1970s. Those laws were enacted specifically to prevent a male defendant’s attorney from airing a rape victim’s entire sexual history to portray her as a “slut” that deserved what she got. The DOJ’s recommendation also violates the federal version of a rape shield law known as the Violence Against Women Act (1994). The DOJ memo’s purpose is clear: shame rape survivors or shut them up to protect male assailants.

The concept of protecting men accused of sexual assault is most likely high on DeVos’s to-do list in unilaterally “repealing and replacing” Title IX to conform to an evangelical misogynist’s worldview. She has complained, often bitterly, that Obama-era directives gave the Civil Rights office at the education department intrusive and overreaching authority; likely because it enforces civil rights and women’s protections on college campuses.

DeVos gave an indication of how she will “replace” Title IX civil right protections early in her tenure when she met first with anti-LGBTQ activists for advice and recommendations. A month later she reached out and met with several “men’s rights groups” that harass rape survivors for advice on how best to change Title IX to stop them from being treated unfairly when they were accused of sexual violence. That “advice” is likely why DeVos says she wants to “rescind Title IX protections for women survivors of sexual assault.

During a speech Thursday at George Mason University’s Law School, DeVos proudly announced that “the era of rule by letter is over.” The “letter” reference is to a “Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) that was an Obama-era directive focusing on “how sexual harassment creates a hostile educational environment” that was officially part of “the 2011 Title IX Guidance.” According to the directive, for the purpose of a Department of Education (DOE) investigation, “one single instance of sexual violence is sufficient to qualify as creating a hostile sexual environment” that warranted an investigation.

DeVos laid out three reasons she is “repealing and replacing” sections of Title IX and they obviously came directly from the “counsel and advice” the men’s rights groups offered when DeVos “reached out” for their direction and guidance. She said that going forward “The accused must know that guilt is not predetermined;” school administrators can no longer be judge, jury and executioner when determining “whether or not” sexual abuse “really happened.” And she intends on putting the brakes on the “Office for Civil Rights” division practice of what she claimed was “terrifying schools and overreaching.”

Although DeVos has not yet issued her “repeal and replacement” of Title IX, it is almost certain to be as great a gift to misogynists as it will be a vile curse against women; particularly those who are victims of sexual harassment and rape. Coupled with the Sessions’ DOJ memo reversing course on “rape shield laws” and the Violence Against Women Act, and DeVos’ stated reasons for abolishing sexual abuse protections for women, her “replacement” will be devastating for women.

It is probably true that some Americans feared a Trump administration would wage a ferocious war on women, and not solely because there is no longer a woman’s rights advocate in the Oval Office. For dog’s sake, Trump is a serial misogynist and an admitted “pussy-grabbing” sexual predator, and his appointment of evangelicals with a misogynist bent to run the Education and Justice Departments almost ensured that misogyny would be rewarded and women would be in serious trouble.

DeVos’ announcement and the leaked Sessions’ memo nearly guarantee that the religious Republican war on women is escalating into a full-scale assault on women. Sadly, President Obama isn’t around to stop the dirty misogynists. This is not going to turn out well for whatever progress women have made over decades of struggle and as usual it is all down to religious Republicans’ who revel in waging war on women.

SCOTUS Aids Theocratic Coup d’état

 

As America nears another anniversary of its Declaration of Independence from an empire heavily influenced by a powerful theocracy, advocates for America under a theocratic government celebrated a major step towards their goal; a nation of the bible, for the evangelicals, and governed by the Christian religion. There is little doubt that the Founding Fathers and Constitution’s Framers would be appalled that the deliberately secular government they created inched closer to officially compelling Americans to support a religion. Indeed, it was the Declaration of Independence’s author, Founding Father, Constitution Framer, and  3rd President Thomas Jefferson who said that “no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.”

Republicans and their evangelical masters believe Thomas Jefferson was an abomination to theocrats everywhere. They also fiercely believe that despite the U.S. Constitution’s 1st Amendment, and well over two-thirds of state Constitutions’ blunt prohibitions on “spending any public money on any church, sect, or denomination of religion,” that Americans must be compelled by force of law to provide “support for religious worship, places, and ministries.

One of those states with prohibitions against using public money to support churches, sects and any denomination of religion is Missouri. Missouri’s Constitution, according to evangelicals, was abhorrent; especially after a few federal courts upheld the Missouri Constitution’s prohibition on using taxpayer money to support religion. So the aspiring theocrats appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that Thomas Jefferson, the Constitution, and thirty-six state constitutions are unfair to religious organizations because they cannot compel taxpayers to support places of worship.

It is noteworthy that although greed is a mortal sin in the Christian religion, the churches are not satisfied taking well over $82.5 billion annually (2013) on top of the over $28 billion in “faith-based initiatives” from taxpayers “compelled” to support religion. They demand that taxpayers pay for private religious schools and want more of their dollars.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court added to those horrific dollar amounts in what appears to be a small way, but they also opened the door for ungodly amounts of taxpayer money to be stolen from public eduction to fund private religious schools. The High Court ruled that it was unfair, and one seriously nasty form of religious persecution, for Missouri’s Constitution to forbid a religious school from taking taxpayer money to improve its playground. It may seem like a small thing, compelling taxpayers to fund improvements for a religious organization’s property, but it was the opening evangelical school choice advocates, and evangelical Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, demanded to compel public schools to “promote god’s kingdom” by government fiat and with taxpayer money.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos celebrated the Trinity decision as a victory for the taxpayer-funded religious school choice movement, which has gained momentum and stands to expand under the Trump administration.

Trump’s budget features a $1.4 billion religious school choice package that includes millions of taxpayer dollars for evangelical families to send their children to private, for profit religious schools.

DeVos is a staunch and lifelong advocate for compelling  taxpayers to fund private, for-profit religious schools. She is also a notorious evangelical and public education enemy who attended and sent her children to private religious schools; likely because they met her requirement that schools exist to “promote god’s kingdom.”

DeVos said the High Court decision affirmed her belief that  “religious discrimination in any form cannot be tolerated in a society that values the First Amendment;” unless of course religion drives discrimination against people of color and the LGBTQ community, then DeVos tolerates “religious discrimination.” She said after the Trinity ruling was announced:

We should all celebrate the fact that [bible-based] programs designed to help students will no longer be discriminated against by the government based solely on religious affiliation.”

DeVos wasn’t the only evangelical celebrating a ruling that opened the door for compelling Americans to support a religion, place, or ministry. The senior attorney for the Institute for Justice who represents evangelicals who couldn’t convince authorities in Colorado to compel taxpayers  to pay for religious school tuition through scholarship grants, Michael Bindas said:

This is a tremendous development for [religious] school choice. It shows the court takes the principle of neutrality toward religion in public benefits programs very seriously. We’re very confident that the Colorado Supreme Court may come to the correct decision.”

Evangelicals claimed that Colorado’s Constitution, and its Supreme Court’s judgement that the state’s Choice Scholarship Program’s  prohibited public funding to “ support or sustain any school that is controlled by any church or sectarian denomination” was patently unfair to evangelicals. The Colorado evangelicals are demanding the Colorado Supreme Court correct their error and start compelling all Colorado taxpayers to “financially support a religion, place of worship, and ministry.

It is always a mystery why so-called Constitutional advocates in the Republican movement are intent on compelling Americans to pay for religious instruction with money appropriated for public schools. This week Kentucky governor and evangelical malcontent Matt Bevin signed a bill into law legalizing bible-courses disguised as social studies in the state’s public school system. Bevin said at a signing ceremony:

The idea that we would not want this to be an option for people in school, that would be crazy. I don’t know why every state would not embrace this, why we as a nation would not embrace this.”

To answer Bevin’s question; every state and the nation is not embracing compelling taxpayers to pay for “religious instruction, places of worship, or bible classes” because it is patently unconstitutional, and not all Americans are religious welfare queens. The Kentucky religious imposition bill demands that religious classes “must discuss all aspects of the Christian bible because they are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture.”

The evangelical zealots in Kentucky’s Republican legislature and governor’s office claim that teaching the Christian bible is the only way for students “to get a better insight on the structure of the country.” One Republican advocate for compelling taxpayers to  support “a ministrysaid the law will “help educate our kids on the background of how they came up with our founding documents.” Founding documents, by the way, that make absolutely no mention of the Christian bible, the Christian religion, or how religion was used in developing the “structure the country” because they did not.

The SCOTUS ruling this week, although seemingly harmless, is being touted as probably the most important High Court ruling all year and that is no exaggeration. It gave evangelicals the opening they have lusted after to tear down the wall of separation the Founders installed in the Constitution to protect the population from a theocracy. The immediate celebratory comments by DeVos and evangelicals intent on “compelling Americans to support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever” informs that not only was the SCOTUS ruling significant, it was a dangerous step towards a government ruled by an evangelical theocracy.