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Betsy DeVos believes that student debt cancelation is a wrongheaded proposal

December 29, 2020

As part of the Trump administration, Betsy DeVos will soon have to relinquish her status as US Secretary of Education. However, DeVos is still using her position in the Trump administration to continue to push her own ideological agenda about education.

Betsy DeVos released at statement on Monday, December 28th, as possibly her last opportunity as Secretary of Education, a statement that once again makes clear of her desire to expand the Neo-Liberal Education model that has it roots in the White Supremacist push back of communities who opposed the desegregation of public schools. (See A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door: The Dismantling of Public Education and the Future of School, by Jack Schneider and Jennifer Berkshire.)

The statement released by DeVos addressed educational aspects of the House bill on COVID relief. While the house bill passed, the Senate still has to vote on it (as of this writing). 

There are several things about DeVos’s statement that are worth pointing out. First, DeVos celebrates that Congress agrees that relief aid should be for both public and private education.

The emergency taxpayer funding set aside for the Education Stabilization Fund will continue to help keep learning going and will hopefully take excuses off the table for schools that remain closed. I am pleased to see that Congress has finally acknowledged what this Administration has said all along: All students and all educators at all schools — private, parochial, and public — are affected by this pandemic, and they all need and deserve support for PPE, cleaning supplies, learning materials, and more. And, through the GEER fund, governors remain empowered to do what’s best for their students.

When DeVos refers to the GEER fun, she means the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief fund, which gives each state the power to decide which schools will benefit from COVID relief fun.  In September, Betsy DeVos sent a letter to the Chief State School Officers round the country, admonishing them to, “provide equitable services to private schools as soon as possible.”

Second, DeVos then chastises members of Congress that do not completely buy into the Neo-Liberal education mantra of School Choice, which is code for, “let’s undermine public education.

Third, Betsy DeVos then makes a backhanded comment about those who are proposing to eliminate student debt, by saying:

There are many wrongheaded proposals right now concerning student debt, so I was pleased to see that Congress adopted one sensible way to address the issue by expanding the ability of employers to provide tax-free payments of up to $5,250 of an employee’s federal student loans, including those taken out prior to their employment. This provision will help students pay down their debts faster and keep employers engaged and invested in what students need to be successful — a win for students and job creators alike.

What is wrongheaded is that Betsy DeVos doesn’t understand that there is an entire movement of students that are demanding that the federal government eliminate student debt. What is wrongheaded is that corporations and stock holders are profiting off of student debt, which includes Betsy DeVos. Earlier this month, DeVos addressed student by saying:

“More than two-thirds of Americans don’t pursue a four-year college education. Many pursue different, and just as valid, paths to gain the skills needed for successful careers. It’s fundamentally unfair to ask two-thirds of Americans who don’t go to college to pay the bills for the mere one-third who do.” 

Now, I don’t believe that Betsy DeVos is a stupid person. Betsy, like the rest of the DeVos family surround themselves with advisors and consultants, to help their family make strategic decision. Betsy DeVos is fully aware of the fact that the wealthy 1% of the population, which includes her family, benefit from a tax systems which burdens the other 99% of the population with paying for the tax breaks the 1% gets. DeVos uses the language in the quote above as a means of appealing to working class people who have embraced some of the talking points of the Capitalist class.

However, since Betsy DeVos has made those comments about a student debt, the incoming Biden administration has backed off of any commitment to only reducing, not cancelling student debt.

Lastly, it is worth noting that while Betsy DeVos has issued this statement in regards to the COVID relief bill, she fails to acknowledge that whatever relief amount that the government will decide upon is grossly inadequate. For someone who claims to support students and parents, it is the height of irony that the federal government COVID relief funds that have been and will be adopted are nothing short of a slap in the face of families across the country who are suffering at the hands of the billionaire class, which includes DeVos.

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