The Democrats oppose Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education as they oppose all of Donald Trump’s nominees principally because they were selected by Donald Trump. For each they must devise reasons for their opposition. But all must be opposed. Some are opposed without rational grounds and others are opposed for doctrinaire reasons.
DeVos is opposed for the latter. She defies progressive doctrine on education. She sees the failure of government education and seeks alternatives. That is simply not acceptable to the left.
And then there is Title IX.
” .. . . . . “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.”
Teachers Unions and Title IX Zealots Want to Destroy Betsy DeVos
Trump’s would-be Education Secretary isn’t an extremist—her critics are.
From Reason.com: By Robby Soave|, Jan. 13, 2017
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.