Education

Department Awards Contract to Firm with Ties to Secretary

“A company that once had financial ties to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was one of two firms selected by the U.S. Department of Education to help the agency collect overdue student loans. The deal could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars,” according to the Washington Post.

“The decision to award contracts to Windham Professionals and Performant Financial Corp. — the company in which DeVos invested before becoming secretary — arrives a month after a federal judge ordered the department to complete its selection of a loan collector to put an end to a messy court battle. Windham and Performant beat out nearly 40 other bidders for contracts valued at up to $400 million, but their win may be short-lived if the losing companies fight the decision.”

Sean Spicer’s Secret Harvard Fellowship

Harvard Crimson: “Sean Spicer was publicly offered a Visiting Fellowship here at the Harvard Kennedy School—and then allowed to speak entirely off the record.”

“During his time on campus, Spicer had closed-door forums with select faculty and fellows, spoke in a few chosen classes, and attended invite-only meals with selected groups of students. In total, 11 events over three days, all off the record, none open to the general student body or public. Not a single word Sean Spicer spoke during his Visiting Fellowship at Harvard was on the record, nor could a single word could be heard without an explicit invite.”

Trump Will Investigate Affirmative Action in Colleges

“The Trump administration is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants,” according to a document obtained by the New York Times.

The document seeks current lawyers interested in working for a new project on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”

Warren Turns Her Fire on DeVos

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (R-MA) “is setting her sights on Betsy DeVos, the wealthy Republican donor who has become a lightning rod for the liberal grassroots as President Trump’s secretary of Education,” The Hill reports.

“Warren on Wednesday announced the launch of DeVos Watch, a coordinated effort to scrutinize the secretary’s handling of the $1 trillion federal student loan program and her oversight of student loan servicers, among other issues.”

FBI Investigating Jane Sanders for Bank Fraud

Federal investigators are looking into allegations that Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-VT) wife, Jane Sanders, falsified loan documents while she served as the president of Burlington College, The Hill reports.

“The small Vermont liberal arts school closed down in May 2016, after going bankrupt and failing to meet accreditation standards. Sanders has been accused of falsifying the information on the loan documents in order to expand the college grounds.”

GOP Bill Would Discipline Hecklers at College Speeches

“University of Wisconsin students who disrupt speeches and demonstrations could be expelled and campuses would have to remain neutral on public issue under a bill Republican legislators are pushing this week,” the AP reports.

“The bill comes as free speech issues have grown more contentious on college campuses across the country. Conservatives are worried that right-wing speakers aren’t given equal treatment as liberal campus presenters and some students have complained about free expression fanning racial tensions.”

Security for Betsy DeVos Costs $1 Million a Month

“The U.S Marshals Service is providing unprecedented protective detail to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and the added security will be costing her agency almost $1 million per month,” NBC News reports.

“The stepped up security began in February, following a threat assessment ordered by the U.S. Attorney General, the marshals service said. The agency only said it determined a threat to her safety exists, and did not elaborate.”

Fight Erupts Over Transgender Students’ Rights

“A fight over a draft order that would rescind protections for transgender students in public schools has erupted inside the Trump administration, pitting Attorney General Jeff Sessions against the secretary of education, Betsy DeVos,” the New York Times reports.

“Ms. DeVos initially resisted signing off on the order and told President Trump that she was uncomfortable with it… The order would reverse the directives put in place last year by the Obama administration to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice. Mr. Sessions, who strongly opposes expanding gay, lesbian and transgender rights, fought Ms. DeVos on the issue and pressed her to relent because he could not go forward without her consent.”