DeVos Appoints Former Governor Engler as Chair of NAEP Governing Board

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Betsy DeVos apointed her friend and ally in the school choice movement, former Governor of Michigan John Engler, as chair of the National Assessment Governing Board, which administers the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Engler is a charter member of the “schools-are-failing” club. He recently retired as president of the Business Roundtable, an association representing some of the nation’s leading businesses, and before that was head of the National Association of Manufacturers.

Expect every release of NAEP scores to be a dire warning about how terrible our public schools are, how we are no longer globally competitive, and why we need drastic steps (school choice?) to close the achievement gaps.

via DeVos Appoints Former Governor Engler as Chair of NAEP Governing Board — Diane Ravitch’s blog

Posted by Libergirl


Five startling things Betsy DeVos just told Congress

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Does this sound familiar? Betsy DeVos went to Capitol Hill to testify before U.S. lawmakers. She didn’t answer a lot of direct questions and engaged in some contentious debates with some members.

That happened in January when she went before the Senate education committee for her confirmation hearing, during which she said schools needed guns to protect against grizzly bears. This time, the education secretary didn’t talk about guns, but she did say that states should have the right to decide whether private schools that accept publicly funded voucher students should be allowed to discriminate against students for whatever reason they want.

DeVos testified before the House subcommittee on labor, health and human services, education and related agencies about the Trump administration’s 2018 budget proposal, which would cut $10.6 billion — or more than 13 percent — from education programs and re-invest $1.4 billion of the savings into promoting school choice.

Both DeVos and President Trump have said expanding alternatives to traditional public schools are their top priority, and during tough questioning from some committee members, DeVos doubled down on that as well as on giving states and local communities flexibility to do what they want with their education programs. It is worth noting, however, that she said recently that people who don’t agree with expanding school choice are “flat Earthers,” people who refuse to face the facts.

Most of the contentious conversation was between DeVos and Democratic members, but even the Republican chairman of the subcommittee, Tom Cole of Oklahoma, took gentle issue with her about cuts in a favored program of his, and another Republican questioned her about her claim that she was following congressional intent.

Here are five rather startling things she said — or wouldn’t say:

1. States should have the flexibility to decide whether private schools that accept students with publicly funded vouchers can discriminate any students for any reason

Rep. Katherine M. Clark (D-Mass.) said that one private school in Indiana that is a voucher school says it may deny admission to students who are LGBT or who come from a family where there is “homosexual or bisexual activity.” She asked DeVos whether she would tell the state of Indiana that it could not discriminate in that way if it were to accept federal funding through a new school choice program. Clark further asked what DeVos would say if a voucher school were not accepting African American students and the state “said it was okay.”

To Clark’s question about whether she would step in, DeVos responded: “Well again, the Office of Civil Rights and our Title IX protections are broadly applicable across the board, but when it comes to parents making choices on behalf of their students …”

Clark interrupted and said, “This isn’t about parents making choices, this is about the use of federal dollars. Is there any situation? Would you say to Indiana, that school cannot discriminate against LGBT students if you want to receive federal dollars? Or would you say the state has the flexibility?”

DeVos said: “I believe states should continue to have flexibility in putting together programs …”

Clark interrupted, saying: “So if I understand your testimony — I want to make sure I get this right. There is no situation of discrimination or exclusion that if a state approved it for its voucher program that you would step in and say that’s not how we are going to use our federal dollars?”

DeVos said she didn’t want to answer a hypothetical question. Clark said it wasn’t hypothetical, and asked if she saw any circumstance that the federal government would tell a state that it could not allow a private voucher school to discriminate against students.

At that point time expired, but DeVos was allowed to respond.

DeVos: “I go back to the bottom line — is we believe parents are the best equipped to make choices for their children’s schooling and education decisions, and too many children are trapped in schools that don’t work for them. We have to do something different. We have to do something different than continuing a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach. And that is the focus. And states and local communities are best equipped to make these decisions.”

Clark: “I am shocked that you cannot come up with one example of discrimination that you would stand up for students.”

The chairman of the subcommittee said she wasn’t required to answer. She didn’t and the discussion moved on.

2. States should have the flexibility to decide whether students with disabilities who are using publicly funded vouchers to pay for private-school tuition should still be protected under the IDEA federal law

Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.), who is the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, discussed the federal Individual With Disabilities in Education Act, which provides federal protections for students with disabilities.

Lowey noted that in voucher and voucher-like programs in which public money is used to pay for private school tuition and educational expenses, families are often required to sign away their IDEA protections, including due process when a school fails to meet a child’s needs. Lowey asked DeVos if she thought that was fair.

DeVos responded that it should be up to the states to decide how to run their own programs, and then she referred to a tax credit program in Florida, where tens of thousands of students with disabilities attend private school with public money. Florida is one of those states that requires voucher recipients to give up their IDEA rights.

“Each state deals with this issue in their own manner,” she said.

3. High-poverty school districts get more funding than low-poverty schools

The reason the federal government has a funding program that is meant to bolster high-poverty schools — called Title I — is because state and local school funding in the United States mainly favors wealthier areas. Title I, however, does not equalize the playing field, and the Trump administration’s budget is proposing using $1 billion in Title I funds for a school choice “portability” program, meaning there would be less money for traditional public schools. Congress rejected such a program during conversations in 2015 about the federal K-12 law Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced No Child Left Behind.

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) noted that the proposed education budget’s Title I plan would reduce funding to high-poverty schools, according to numerous experts, and she asked DeVos whether she believes that high-poverty school districts should get “more funding resources” than schools with lower levels of poverty.

DeVos said, “Yes, I think the reality is that they do receive higher levels of funding.”

Later, Roybal-Allard asked her more specifically about federal funds: “Just to be clear … you do agree that high-poverty schools should receive more federal resources than lower levels of poverty schools? Was that your testimony?”

Devos responded: “Yes, I think that this is the case.”

Roybal-Allard said, “They don’t,” and continued to press DeVos.

In her first answer, the secretary said she believed high-poverty school districts do get more funding than wealthier districts, which is most often not true. In the second response, she said she believes high-poverty school districts get more federal funding than wealthier districts.  That is not always true.

4. The administration is not shifting money for public schools in the budget in order to fund school choice experiments

It is. If there are cuts to public schools, and there is new money going to school choice, that can’t mean anything else.


5. DeVos wouldn’t say whether private and religious schools that accept students paying with public funds should be accredited or held accountable in the same way that traditional public schools are

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) discussed a private school that took public dollars even though it said students could learn how to read by simply putting a hand on a book. He asked her if she was “going to have accountability standards” in any new school choice program.

Her response: States should decide “what kind of flexibility they are going to allow.”

As noted earlier, Democrats gave her the toughest questions, but some Republicans didn’t give her a total pass. Committee Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) asked her about proposed cuts to a college preparation program called TRIO, of which he said he is a “big fan.” Cole said it has produced 5 million college graduates and he has seen the impact in his district. He then asked her about the administration’s proposed cuts.

She said that the parts the administration seeks to eliminate are “outside of the original intent of the TRIO programs.”

Later, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) asked her: “If we fund those programs would they then be within congressional intent?”

She responded: “If that’s how you define it, I guess they would be.”

(Clarification: Making it clear that high-poverty school districts most often do not get more funding than wealthier districts.)

Here is her opening testimony as provided by the Education Department:

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member DeLauro and Members of the Subcommittee:

Thank you for this opportunity to testify on behalf of the Administration’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2018.

I look forward to talking about how we can work together to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for all students while also refocusing the Federal role in education.


While today’s hearing is meant to focus on the numbers and mechanics of the budget, I hope we’ll all remember our goal and our purpose: how to best serve America’s students.

Allow me to share just one example:

I recently met a young man — Michael — whose story truly spoke to me. Michael grew up in East Hartford, Connecticut, in a low-income neighborhood. He was an average student throughout elementary and middle school, but that all changed when he reached the district high school.

Michael described a school where students were the real ones in charge of the class, and they would make it impossible for the teacher to teach.

He was constantly bullied, to the point he was afraid to even go to the school’s bathroom, and this constant fear made him hate school. He described the school he was assigned to as, and I quote, “nothing more than adult day care … a dangerous daycare.”

But even though he was failing his classes, the school simply passed him along from year-to-year, giving him D’s and sending the not-so-subtle message that they didn’t think Michael would amount to much.

Michael got a diploma, but not an education.

Michael followed the path he thought he was destined for, working in a low-skill, low-wage job. But with the encouragement of his wife, Michael took a course at the local community college to see what was possible for him. He found an environment that was invested in his success, and much to his surprise, Michael earned an A. He thought it was a fluke. So he took more classes, and lo and behold, he earned more A’s. He’s now in the school’s honors program with the goal of working as an emergency room nurse.

His success is America’s success. Access to a quality education is the path to the American dream.

So I ask you to keep Michael, and countless other students like him, in mind as we go about our shared work to support America’s students. No student should feel they attend a “dangerous daycare.” No child’s dreams should be limited by the quality, or lack thereof, of the education they receive.


This budget lays out a series of proposals and priorities that work toward ensuring every student has an equal opportunity to receive a great education. It focuses on returning decision-making power and flexibility to the states, where it belongs, and giving parents more control over their child’s education.

Parents deserve that right, and frankly, that right has been denied for too long. We cannot allow any parent to feel their child is trapped in a school that isn’t meeting his or her unique needs.

The budget also reflects a series of tough choices. If taxpayer money were limitless, we wouldn’t need a budget at all. But by its very definition, a budget reflects the difficult decisions of how best to appropriate the limited taxpayer dollars we have. This budget does so by putting an emphasis on the programs that are proven to help students, while taking a hard look at programs that are well-intended but simply haven’t yielded meaningful results.

This is why the President’s fiscal year 2018 budget would reduce overall funding for Department programs by $9 billion, or 13 percent. I’ve seen the headlines, and I understand those figures may sound alarming for some; however, this budget refocuses the Department on supporting States and school districts in their efforts to provide high-quality education to all our students. At the same time, the budget simplifies funding for college, while continuing to help make a higher education more accessible to all.


I’d like to outline the principles that guided our decision-making.

First, our request would devote significant resources toward giving every student an equal opportunity for a great education. It emphasizes giving parents more power and students more opportunities.

Second, the Administration’s request recognizes the importance of maintaining strong support for public schools through longstanding State formula grant programs focused on meeting the educational needs of the nation’s most vulnerable students, including poor and minority students and students with disabilities.

Third, our request maintains funding for key competitive grant programs that support innovation and build evidence of what works in education. This also means strong support for the research and data collection activities of the Department.

Fourth, our request reduces the complexity of funding for college while prioritizing efforts to help make a college education accessible for low-income students. As Congress prepares to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, I look forward to working with you to address student debt and higher education costs while accelerating and improving student completion rates through such efforts as Year-Round Pell, and reducing the complexity of student financial aid.

And fifth, consistent with our commitment to improve the efficiency of the Federal government, our request would eliminate or phase-out 22 programs that are duplicative, ineffective, or are better supported through State, local or philanthropic efforts. Six additional programs were already eliminated in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. All told, taxpayers will save $5.8 billion. 


In total, the President’s budget fulfills his promise to devolve power from the Federal government and place it in the hands of parents and families. It refocuses the Department on supporting States in their efforts to provide a high-quality education to all of our students.

Research shows that increasing education options can have positive effects on students generally, and an even greater impact on poor and minority students. If we truly want to provide better education to underserved communities, then we must start with giving parents and students the power to select high-quality schools that meet their needs.

I want to unleash a new era of creativity and ingenuity in the education space. My hope is that — working in concert with each of you — we can make education in America the envy of the rest of the world.

Thank you again for the opportunity to share the Administration’s vision for improving education across the country. I look forward to respond to any questions you may have.

By Valerie Strauss/WashingtonPost

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Study Shows School Vouchers Hurt Students—but Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos Could Not Care Less

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  President Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos with students at Saint Andrew Catholic School in Orlando, Fla. (Shealah Craighead / Wikimedia Commons)


The nation’s only federally funded private school voucher program, foisted on the overwhelming Black student population of Washington, D.C., by the George Bush administration in 2004, inflicts negative effects on student achievement levels, according to a new study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education. Low-income students who were selected by lottery to receive the taxpayer-funded “scholarships” performed 7.3 percent worse on math and 4.9 percent lower in reading than students from similar backgrounds who remained in public schools because they did not make the lottery pick. Parents of voucher kids seemed oblivious to their children’s relative underachievement, but believed the private schools they attended were “very safe, compared with the parents of students not selected for the scholarship offer” – confirming ample anecdotal evidence that safety concerns are at the root of much pro “school choice” sentiment in the Black community.

If President Trump gets his budget passed, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the billionaire school privatizer who was rescued from rejection by the Senate by only one vote, will have an additional $250 million to fund private school voucher programs in Washington and, she hopes, the 13 states that currently finance their own voucher schemes. Trump proposes an overall increase of $1.4 billion for school voucher and charter programs, with the goal of ramping it up to $20 billion—while immediately cutting the total federal education budget by $9 billion, or 13 percent.

Neither facts nor democracy have been allowed to stand in the way of the school privatizers. Polls showed 85 percent of Black residents and three-quarters of D.C. voters of all ethnicities opposed vouchers in late 2002, as did most local elected officials. The exception was Mayor Anthony Williams, whose avowed mission was to draw more “middle class” residents to the nation’s capital through “quality education.” (When Williams declared that Washington could easily accommodate 200,000 new residents, everyone knew he wasn’t talking about additional Black people. By the 2010 Census, D.C. had lost its Black majority.) In 2004, Williams endorsed the Republican plan to impose an “experimental,” five-year private school vouchers program on Washington, using Congress’s unique powers over the District to make it the only federally funded vouchers scheme in the nation. “We had never had a locally elected black official, a Democrat from a city like D.C., asking for something like this before,” said Shokraii Rees, an operative for George Bush’s Department of Education. “That’s the single strongest factor that got people’s attention.”

Most of the nation’s Black Democrats opposed vouchers, as did large majorities of the Black rank-and-file, because of the scheme’s roots in Jim Crow-era white “segregation academies.” Never in history have Black Americans marched, rallied or petitioned for private school vouchers. Therefore, the corporate privatizers had to create a Black pro-voucher “movement” out of thin air—or rather, through the political “astro-turfing” power of their checkbooks. In 1999, some of the most right-wing foundations and fat cats in the nation spent millions to found the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), which then tapped into additional millions in direct federal funding once George Bush won the presidency. Among the BAEO’s founders was the first-term Newark, New Jersey, city councilman, Cory Booker, a true believer in privatized education who helped operate two private schools and evangelized about forming a national movement to spread the “choice” gospel. (See “Fruit of the Poisoned Tree,” The Black Commentator, April 5, 2002.)

While rising steadily in Black Democratic politics, Cory Booker was also a star in the right-wing corporate political firmament, serving for ten years with the American Federation for Children, a leading school voucher and charter advocacy outfit founded by Betsy DeVos, and chaired by her until last year.

Booker joined all of the Senate’s Democrats in voting against Devos’ confirmation, claiming he had problems with her positions on school safety issues. It is surely true that Booker’s efforts to distance himself from his private school voucher roots have a lot do with his presidential ambitions. But, much more importantly, vouchers have long been eclipsed by charters as the most effective means of wholesale privatization of public education. As two-term mayor of Newark, Cory Booker was largely responsible for boosting charters to one-third of total school enrollment. Charters now account for 44 percent of Washington, D.C., public school enrollment, while voucher schools serve only a small fraction of the city’s students.

Corporate America, the real force behind school privatization, found its education champion in Barack Obama, whose “Race to the Top” program coerced states across the nation to create a “market” for charter schools, which tap directly into the public school funding money-stream.

A true troglodyte from the “segregation academy” school of politics, Donald Trump wants to throw billions of dollars at private voucher schools. He and DeVos will doubtless do a lot of damage with their voucher schemes, but the main thrust of privatization will continue to be the methodical construction of an alternative—and, in much of Black America, dominant—charter school system that is accountable only to its managers and corporate service providers.

Voucher schools are small-scale privatization. Charters are the corporate Mother Lode.

By Glenn Ford/BlackAgendaReport/Truthdig

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Reporters, It’s Time To Investigate DeVos’ Department Of Education: Forget the public gaffes, and follow the corruption.

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In the lead-up to billionaire Republican megadonor and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ confirmation, numerous media outlets published deep-dive investigations into DeVos’ background, significant political contributions, potential conflicts of interest, far-right ideology, and negative influence on Michigan policies.

But since she formally took over at the Department of Education, the investigative work seems to have mostly dropped off; coverage of DeVos has focused more on her public gaffes than the inner workings of the agency she now runs. It certainly doesn’t help that DeVos and her department have struggled with media transparency. As education media writer Alexander Russo wrote, “DeVos takes press questions at events only occasionally, has yet to grant a formal interview with a major national education reporter, and heads a department that only intermittently provides answers in a timely manner – through a spokesperson whose name reporters are forbidden to use. The agency has even struggled to put out her weekly schedule in advance of public events.”

It’s time for investigative journalists to dig deeper and shine light on DeVos’ priorities, such as early staffing decisions at the Education Department. There’s certainly plenty to explore — many of the temporary staffers in the Education Department are veterans of the right-wing think tank echo chamber on “education reform,” and some have anti-LGBTQ and anti-black track records. Like DeVos, almost none have spent significant time as educators.

As ProPublica reported, the Trump administration has installed hundreds of officials across federal agencies including the Education Department (known as “beachhead” teams). Though the positions are designed to be temporary, many are expected to transition into permanent roles, and may have “taken on considerable influence in the absence of high-level political appointees” who need to first be vetted and confirmed by the Senate:

Unlike appointees exposed to the scrutiny of the Senate, members of these so-called “beachhead teams” have operated largely in the shadows, with the White House declining to publicly reveal their identities.


Much about the role of the beachhead teams at various federal agencies is unclear. But close observers of the early weeks of the Trump administration believe they have taken on considerable influence in the absence of high-level political appointees.

The beachhead team members are temporary employees serving for stints of four to eight months, but many are expected to move into permanent jobs.

A December Politico report highlighted three newly named Education Department staffers who had previously posted offensive comments about women and people of color online. Two of the staffers still appear to work for DeVos’ agency months after the report. Kevin Eck, a special assistant to Secretary DeVos, had to apologize after he tweeted disparagingly in late 2015 about the “all black cast” of NBC’s The Wiz adaptation. Politico also documented several disparaging tweets by Eck about the LGBTQ community, including at least one post that pushed the dangerous “bathroom predator” myth people use to justify barring transgender individuals (students, in particular) from using the appropriate public facilities. According to his LinkedIn profile, Eck still serves in this role at the department.

The Politico article identified another staffer, Derrick Bolen, who “has tweeted numerous statements that could be considered insensitive to African-Americans and women.” Bolen’s posts include at least one in which he used a racial slur. He began serving as a confidential assistant to DeVos in the early days of the administration; ProPublica notes that Bolen “appear[s] to have switched departments” and may now be working at the Department of Labor. His LinkedIn profile does not list any past experience in teaching or education policy; instead, Bolen served most recently as a regional field director for the Republican National Committee.

Former Alaska state Sen. Jerry Ward served as a special assistant to Secretary DeVos until his reported resignation last week. Years before Ward worked as the Alaska state director for the Trump campaign or served on Trump’s inaugural committee, he was investigated by the Department of Justice for alleged corruption stemming from “his relationship with private prison advocate William Weimar.” According to local media coverage, federal prosecutors also concluded that Ward had interfered with a witness in a corruption trial in order to protect himself from prosecution. Little is known about Ward’s resignation from the “beachhead” team; he has not discussed the matter publicly.

Journalists have already begun identifying new members of the Education Department staff — beachhead or otherwise — whose backgrounds raise strong conflict-of-interest questions. In March, The New York Timesreported that Robert Eitel, a vice president for regulatory legal services at for-profit college operator Bridgepoint Education Inc., is on leave from the position to work as a special assistant to Secretary DeVos. Ethics experts told the Times that Eitel’s connections to Bridgepoint, in particular his legal work while the company faced several government investigations, could “bump up against federal rules involving conflicts of interest and impartiality.” Eitel was recently granted written permission from ethics officials to work on regulations specifically affecting student loan repayment; under his legal leadership, Bridgepoint paid out “a settlement of more than $30 million over deceptive student lending.”

Another early member of DeVos’ staff, Taylor Hansen, also has significant financial ties to the for-profit higher education world; he’s both a for-profit college lobbyist and the son of the former CEO of a student loan guarantee agency. As Bloomberg News reports, Hansen resigned from his role at the Education Department in mid-March, just one day after the department announced a reversal on an Obama-era directive related to fees that loan guarantee agencies can charge some students who default on their loans. The change, Bloomberg explained, “is almost certain to hand … a victory” — and possibly $15 million in additional revenue — to the company that, until very recently, was operated by Hansen’s father.

Jerry Falwell Jr. is the son of televangelist Jerry Falwell Sr. and the president of Liberty University, a Christian college in Virginia founded by Falwell Sr. in 1971. He has also been tapped to head a “task force on higher education” in the Trump administration, reportedly at the insistence of senior White House official and former executive Stephen Bannon. Falwell Jr. has encouraged students to carry concealed weapons on campus in order to “end those Muslims,” and defended President Donald Trump’s 2005 comments boasting about sexually assaulting women. Liberty University also offers insight into Falwell Jr.’s leadership and priorities — the school is closely tied to the Liberty Counsel, an anti-LGBTQ hate grouphosts extremist groups and individuals for campus events, and prohibits “sexual relations outside of a biblically ordained marriage between a natural-born man and a natural-born woman.”

Little information has come to light about Falwell’s plans for the higher education task force, but reports indicate that he is “particularly interested in curbing rules that require schools to investigate campus sexual assault under Title IX, a federal law that bans discrimination in education.” Falwell has also said that he wants the task force to “re-evaluate ‘overreaching regulation’ by the federal government,” reportedly in areas such as college accreditation and federal loan cancellation for defrauded students, leading to calls for more information from Senate Democrats who see potential for conflicts of interest. “Mr. Falwell’s personal and financial interests on issues affecting student loan debt, recruitment, and distance education are extensive,” the lawmakers wrote, noting that Liberty University was the third-largest recipient of federal student loans in 2016.

The vast majority of “beachhead” officials within the Education Department have close connections to the right-wing “education reform” media echo chamber bankrolled by billionaires and private corporations — but little to no experience in the classroom.

This list includes at least four staffers who have previously worked for education privatization groups led by DeVos in some capacity: Michael Frendewey, a communications staffer at American Federation for Children, which was founded by DeVos and led by until her nomination; and Andrew KossackJosh Venable, and Neil Ruddock, all former staffers of Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, which counted DeVos as a board member until her nomination.

The longer list of staffers who come from the dark-money “education reform” echo chamber includes Jason Botel, of the DeVos-affiliated Maryland Campaign for Achievement NowMichael Brickman, a former staffer with the Fordham Institute and Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI); Gillum Ferguson, a former staffer for conservative outlets Opportunity Lives and The Washington Free Beacon; Alexandra Hudson, who has written education policy pieces at conservative outlets and think tanks like The Heartland InstituteThe Federalist, and The Weekly Standard and recently worked as an education policy analyst for the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (part of the State Policy Network of right-wing think tanks); Lauren Rigas of the American Conservative Union and the American Enterprise Institute; and Patrick Shaheen, a former staffer at the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity.

Let’s not forget the bombshell Washington Post report from April 3: Erik Prince, DeVos’ brother and the founder of the infamous Blackwater security firm, met with “a Russian close to President Vladi­mir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and [then] President-elect Donald Trump” days before Trump’s inauguration. According to officials, Prince “presented himself as an unofficial envoy for Trump” during the secret Seychelles meeting although he has no formal role with the administration. The meeting took place less than two months after Trump announced he would pick Prince’s sister to head the Education Department.

By Pam Vogel / Media Matters

Posted by The NON-Conformist

HBCUs, advocates looking for help from Trump on funding

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The nation’s historically black colleges and universities are pushing for President Donald Trump to set aside more federal contracts and grants for their schools, and take a greater hand in their welfare by moving responsibility for a key program for those colleges to the White House.

President Donald Trump shakes hands as he meets with leaders of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Image: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The presidents of the nation’s 100-plus HBCUs, pressing their case for greater attention from the new Republican-controlled government, met with Trump briefly in the Oval Office and later with Vice President Mike Pence. On Tuesday, they planned to meet with GOP lawmakers.

 “Know that beginning today, this administration is committed to ensuring that historically black colleges and universities get the credit and the attention they deserve,” Pence said after the meeting. “Our administration at the president’s direction is working to find new ways to expand your impact so that more students, especially in the underserved communities of this country, have a chance at a quality education.”
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Betsy DeVos reveals her longtime education secretary aspirations: “I literally had never given it a thought”

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Image: Quartz

Her Senate confirmation last week—won by a hair’s breadth—didn’t help to make US education secretary Betsy DeVos any less blisteringly controversial. Neither, surely, will this. In an interview with Axios’s Jonathan Swan published this morning, DeVos—a Michigan billionaire with no personal experience in public education—revealed she was apparently just as taken by surprise by president…

Recalled DeVos:

It was the day after the election that somebody with whom I’ve worked for a number of years actually e‑mailed and said, ‘Would you ever think about secretary of education?’I literally have never given it a thought. But if the opportunity ever presented itself, how could I not consider it?

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