Wednesday, November 23, 2016

New Secretary of Education Announced

The President-elect has announced his pick for Secretary of Education: Betsy DeVos, a public school reform advocate and former chair of the Michigan Republican Party.

DeVos currently chairs the board of directors for the American Federation for Children, an advocacy group committed to school choice through means such as vouchers and tax credits.

Though there is little public information I could find on DeVos from which to predict what her appointment would specifically mean for Title IX enforcement, the few clues I did find suggest that she is unlikely to champion the law's aggressive enforcement. In 2006, a Michigan right-wing watch group compiled a report on DeVos and her husband's philanthropy, which targets many conservative religious causes -- including a $50,000 gift to Grove City College, which notoriously refuses to participate in federal financial aid programs so that it will not have to comply with Title IX. (DeVos's own alma mater, Calvin College in Grand Rapids received a requested Title IX exemption in 1985 that permit the seminary program to limit certain internships to male students, consistent with the policy of the Christian Reform Denomination not to ordain women.  However, unlike many other religiously affiliated institutions, Calvin College has not sought exemptions from Title IX's application to LGBT students.)  The same report also indicates that she and her husband have donated to the Institute for Marriage Policy and the Michigan Family Forum -- groups that opposed same-sex marriage. From this it seems reasonable to predict that DeVos will not continue the current administration's push for Title IX's application to LGBT students. Add to that her financial support for pro-life groups and I think it's fair to say the incoming Secretary is no feminist, and would be unlikely to choose one as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights.