Good morning, it’s May 25, 2017. This morning at RealClearEducation we have news, commentary, analysis and reports from the top of the education world.
Secretary DeVos appeared before a House Appropriations subcommittee yesterday and was grilled by Democrats over the administration’s proposed budget cuts and federal expansion of school choice. In perhaps the most important exchange of the hearing, Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., asked DeVos whether she would prevent private schools that receive public dollars from discriminating against students. Citing an example of a private Christian school in Indiana that denies access to gay students, Clark pressed DeVos on how she would treat that school if it applied for federal voucher funds. DeVos countered that it would be up to the states to decide. However, when Clark posed a hypothetical about black students, DeVos said that the Office for Civil Rights would step in.
The exchange highlights a problem that supporters of school choice have debated for years – can public dollars flow to private schools without subjecting those schools to federal laws and regulations? This question is the reason that many conservatives have argued against a federal expansion of school choice. Yesterday’s exchange between Clark and DeVos will no doubt highlight their concerns even more.
The hearing also contained an important exchange between DeVos and Rep. Martha Roby about Common Core and federal intrusion into standards and curriculum. DeVos agreed with Roby that ESSA prevents the federal government from dictating or influencing state standards and she said the department would follow the letter of the law.
As Politico reports, the head of the Education Department’s student financial aid office resigned late Tuesday night. In a memo explaining his decision, James Runcie, chief operating officer of the Office of Federal Student Aid, stated that he was “encumbered from exercising [his] authorities to properly lead this great organization." He had also been ordered by DeVos to testify before the House Oversight Committee and refused, which also factored into his resignation.
More than 60 Middlebury College students have finally been disciplined for their roles in the protest of Charles Murray and injury of a Middlebury professor. However, none of the students were suspended or expelled. Instead, the college said the punishments range “from probation to official college discipline, which places a permanent record in the student’s file."
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