Broken Promises: Teachers Sue U.S. Over Student Loans That Weren’t Forgiven

Debbie Baker thought she qualified for a federal program that helps teachers such as her, as well as nurses, police officers, librarians and others. The Department of Education program forgives their federal student loans if they make their payments for 10 years and work in public service.

For 10 years, Baker, who was a public school teacher in Tulsa, Okla., checked in with loan servicing companies and was told she was on track.

“I said, ‘I’m qualifying for public service loan forgiveness,’ and they said, ‘OK, great,’ ” she says.

But it turns out that her $76,000 in student loans didn’t get forgiven. Baker was finally told she was in the wrong type of loan. If she’d known that at the beginning, she could have switched loans and ended up qualifying. But she says nobody ever told her.

Full story at npr.org

Federal Watchdog Issues Scathing Report On Ed Department’s Handling Of Student Loans

A critical new report from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General finds the department’s student loan unit failed to adequately supervise the companies it pays to manage the nation’s trillion-dollar portfolio of federal student loans. The report also rebukes the department’s office of Federal Student Aid for rarely penalizing companies that failed to follow the rules.

Instead of safeguarding borrowers’ interests, the report says, FSA’s inconsistent oversight allowed these companies, known as loan servicers, to potentially hurt borrowers and pocket government dollars that should have been refunded because servicers weren’t meeting federal requirements.

“By not holding servicers accountable,” the report says, “FSA could give its servicers the impression that it is not concerned with servicer noncompliance with Federal loan servicing requirements, including protecting borrowers’ rights.”

Full story at npr.org

U.S. Department of Education Announces Initiative to Address the Inappropriate Use of Restraint and Seclusion to Protect Children with Disabilities, Ensure Compliance with Federal Laws

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today that the U.S. Department of Education will launch an initiative to address the possible inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion in our nation’s schools. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR), in partnership with the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), will oversee this proactive approach which will protect students with disabilities by providing technical assistance and support to schools, districts, and state education agencies, and strengthen enforcement activities.

“This initiative will not only allow us to support children with disabilities, but will also provide technical assistance to help meet the professional learning needs of those within the system serving students,” Secretary DeVos said.  “The only way to ensure the success of all children with disabilities is to meet the needs of each child with a disability. This initiative furthers that important mission.”

The Department’s Initiative to Address the Inappropriate Use of Restraint and Seclusion will not only include components that help schools and districts understand how federal law applies to the use of restraint and seclusion, but the Department will also support schools seeking resources and information on the appropriate use of interventions and supports to address the behavioral needs of students with disabilities.

Full story at ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Builds on Efforts to Improve Services for Students, Increase Effectiveness and Fairness of Office for Civil Rights Investigations

WASHINGTON — As part of its ongoing work to protect students’ civil rights and effectively, efficiently and fairly investigate civil rights complaints, today the U.S. Department of Education announced additional improvements to the Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR) Case Processing Manual (CPM).

“Our top priority in the Office for Civil Rights is ensuring all students have equal access to education free from discrimination,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Kenneth L. Marcus. “Since joining the OCR team in June, I’ve reviewed our Case Processing Manual and received important and constructive feedback on it.  While we continue to work to improve the timeliness of OCR’s case processing, we have determined that additional revisions will help improve our work and allow us to be more responsive to students, stakeholders and our staff.”

The CPM provides guidelines for field investigators working to investigate and resolve complaints and to ensure schools comply with the laws and regulations enforced by OCR. The CPM underwent its last revision in March of 2018.

Full story at ed.gov

Improved Borrower Defense Discharge Process Will Aid Defrauded Borrowers, Protect Taxpayers

WASHINGTON – After careful review to ensure a fair and efficient process, the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) today unveiled an improved discharge process for borrower defense to repayment (BDR) claims.

“We have been working to get this right for students since day one,” said Secretary Betsy DeVos. “No fraud is acceptable, and students deserve relief if the school they attended acted dishonestly. This improved process will allow claims to be adjudicated quickly and harmed students to be treated fairly. It also protects taxpayers from being forced to shoulder massive costs that may be unjustified.”

For pending claims, no changes were made to the existing approval criteria. Claims that previously would have been approved will still be approved today. However, rather than taking an “all or nothing” approach to discharge, the improved process will provide tiers of relief to compensate former Corinthian students based on damages incurred.

Full story at ed.gov

Education: Department hits hiring wall

Watching and waiting. Politico reported the Department of Education has stalled in staffing the department with fresh faces.

Dozens of candidates have dropped out of the running for open positions within the department because of the rigorous hiring process, Politico reported. For example, economic adviser Allan Hubbard was reported to be a front runner for deputy secretary, but withdrew his name in June, per Politico.

Longstanding vacancies will make it difficult for secretary of education Betsy DeVos to implement her agenda, per Politico. The department stated that DeVos is moving forward with hiring plans.

Full story at Biz Journal

THANK YOU MISSES DEVOS FOR MY REAL GOOD EDUCATION

I am writing at you in the year of 2040. And I am writing to say thank you so much because without you I would not have learned so much. I am just a boy without a lot of money. My parents say I have a lot of money in the bank but every time I try to get in there I get stuck in the spinning door. One time I got so stuck that I got bored and smashed through all the shiny walls to get to the candy basket. Then I forgot what I was supposed to do so I went home without any money. But the candy was so good!

I am the smartest and oldest student in my school so next year I will go to Harvard right away. I will study rules and politics so some day I can make them good like you did. I would not have this amazing scenario of life without you so thank you again to you.

Full letter of future education at The New Yorker

The Japanese education system may solve the problems of US public education

The uproar over the new Secretary of Education’s first days in the cabinet and the state of American public education K through 12 ignores the challenge of how we might actually improve teaching. And it can be a relatively simple fix.

Blocked by protesters from visiting a Washington, D.C. school recently, newly confirmed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, an avid support of privatization, met with public school officials eventually.

Yes, DeVos had faced a historically close vote — the first ever cabinet confirmation when a vice president cast the tie-breaking vote.

Full story of Japanese education system solving US education problems at The Hill

Chuck Schumer: Trump’s Education Pick Would ‘Single-Handedly Decimate’ Public Schools

PHILADELPHIA ― Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a scathing statement Thursday that he plans to vote against President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Education Department.

Trump’s nominee, Betsy DeVos, floundered during her confirmation hearing last week as Democrats took turns questioning her ability to lead the department. DeVos, a billionaire from a powerful Republican family in Michigan, has been dedicated to funneling money to “school choice” efforts ― and away from public schools.

“Betsy DeVos would single-handedly decimate our public education system if she were confirmed,” Schumer said. “Her plan to privatize education would deprive students from a good public education, while helping students from wealthy families get another leg up.”

Full story on head of the Education Department at Huffington Post

U.S. Department of Education Releases Guidance on Civil Rights of Students with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Education released three new sets of guidance today to assist the public in understanding how the Department interprets and enforces federal civil rights laws protecting the rights of students with disabilities. These guidance documents clarify the rights of students with disabilities and the responsibilities of educational institutions in ensuring that all students have the opportunity to learn.

The guidance released today includes a parent and educator resource guide; a Dear Colleague letter (DCL) and question and answer document on the use of restraint and seclusion in public schools; and a DCL and question and answer documents on the rights of students with disabilities in public charter schools.

“These guidance documents share information with our full school communities – educators, parents, and students – about important educational rights, including school obligations to identify, evaluate, and serve students with disabilities,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, the Department’s assistant secretary for civil rights. “Vigilant attention to the rights of students with disabilities will help ensure fair treatment for every student and that every student has equal access to educational programs and has an opportunity to experience success.”

Full story of guidance on civil rights of students with disabilities at ed.gov