DeVos’ student protection rollback exemplifies the swamp


Zoe Haworth

DeVos’ student protection rollback exemplifies the swamp

By Eric Bradach

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos continues to exhibit why she was the first cabinet nominee in the nation’s history to be confirmed with a vice presidential tie-breaking vote by blocking a federal regulation protecting students from for-profit colleges. Thankfully, some elected officials are trying to stop her.

Eighteen attorneys general—including Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan—filed an Oct. 17 lawsuit against DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education for refusing to enforce the Gainful Employment Rule without sufficient justification or public input, according to an Oct. 17 press release from Madigan. The rule regulates for-profit colleges, vocational schools and nondegree programs to ensure their programs prepare students for gainful employment in credible occupations. 

The rule also ensures students are provided information on how to pay back student loans. If an institution’s program fails in those requirements, federal student loans and grants will be withheld from those programs. 

“[The Department of Education] abandons millions of students across the county to the false promises of predatory schools,” Madigan said in the press release. “The [GER] was implemented to protect students from enrolling in programs that fail to provide an education that leads to gainful employment and instead leave students with a lifetime of debt.” 

Madigan is spot on and the actions by for-profit schools nationwide exemplify that. The rule had yet to be enforced, but hundreds of poor performing programs shut down in anticipation of the rule, according to the Oct. 17 press release.

DeVos and her department disagree. An Education Department spokeswoman accused the Democratic attorneys general of filing the lawsuit only to score political points. She said the rule does not protect students and only diverts time and resources away from taxpayers, according to an Oct. 18 Time article.


But it is actually DeVos and the Trump administration who are deflecting resources away from the American people with stunts like this. DeVos released her 11 priorities for the Education Department Oct. 12, and to no surprise, school choice was at the top.


Before DeVos was confirmed as the Education Department head, she was a leading charter-schools advocate in her home state, Michigan. She also doled out campaign donations to politicians who voted for legislation favorable to charter schools. But instead of the state’s education system flourishing thanks to school choice, it left children adrift, scrambling to several schools because of unchecked standards, according to a June 28, 2016, New York Times article. 

The promotion of school choice and rolling back safeguards for students’ financial and occupational future indicate that DeVos isn’t interested in future generations’ wellbeing. She is only interested in assisting others’ profit motives. 

Moral politicians in Washington shouldn’t ease the pressure on DeVos because we have seen results when tension is levied on President Donald Trump’s cabinet members who only serve their financial interests. Tom Price resigned as Health and Human Services secretary Sept. 29 amid heavy criticism for racking up at least $400,000 in travel bills for chartered flights. 

While no one should wish ill on another human being, it does make sense to wish someone be removed from their job because they are damaging public interest. Trump promised he would drain the swamp, but DeVos is a member of the swamp.