Trump Makes Choice for Ed Secretary

DC Shuttle …

President-elect Trump Nominates Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary. President-elect Donald Trump announced in a statement that he is nominating Betsy DeVos to be the secretary of education. She followed with an announcement of acceptance. Betsy Davos is an activist, philanthropist and former chair of the Michigan Republican Party. She has traditionally advocated for conservative approaches and supported school choice—stances that are likely to please conservatives. She currently serves as chair of the American Federation of Children, which supports candidates who endorse vouchers and charter schools. Her stance on common core remains less clear, which has angered some conservatives that had asked Trump to choose a secretary who promised opposition to common core. In response to those concerns, she made a point after her nomination of saying that she was not a supporter of common core.  She is married to Dick DeVos, the son of Amway co-founder Richard DeVos, and the couple regularly donates to Republican candidates. Betsy DeVos’s work has centered on elementary and secondary education. Chalkbeat published a profile of what the choice means for education policy. Philanthropy Roundtable held an extensive interview with her in 2013. She has outlined her biography and some policy goals on her website. The appointment of DeVos is subject to Senate confirmation, with consideration coming through the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Read more in Politico and the Washington Post.

GAO Report Projects Increase in Cost of Income-Based Repayment Program. The federal government’s income-based student loan repayment plan will cost more than twice what the Education Department originally expected, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office. The Education Department’s methods for estimating the costs of the repayment plan “do not ensure reliable budget estimates,” the GAO report says. The growth in actual costs of the program was largely due to the growing popularity of the repayment plan. Between 2013 and 2016, the share of borrowers on the plans jumped from 10% to 24%, according to the report. GAO says the cost estimate for loans issued between 2009 and 2016 is now $53 billion—$28 billion higher than original estimates. The Wall Street Journal reports.

Defense Bill Would Not Allow For-Profit Colleges on Bases. Language that would have expanded access to for-profit college recruiters on military bases was removed from the final defense policy bill. The language had been included in the Senate version of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act in May as part of an amendment by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), and was backed by Senate Armed Services Chair John McCain (R-AZ). It had not been included in the House version.

ED Releases ESSA Final Rule on Low-Performing Schools. The U.S. Education Department released final regulations on how states must identify and address the lowest-performing schools under the Every Student Succeeds Act. It is unclear if and how the regulations will continue under a Trump administration.

DOL Overtime Rule Delayed and Appealed in Courts. The federal government filed a notice to appeal a Texas judge’s decision to temporarily block a contentious overtime pay rule. The notice, filed by the Justice Department on behalf of the Labor Department, came the same day the rule was supposed to go into effect. The rule would have extended overtime pay to 4.2 million employees earning up to $47,476 a year, more than double the current threshold of $23,660 a year, but was put on hold by a court the previous week. The appeal shows that the administration is still hoping to implement the change. The Wall Street Journal reports.

We publish the DC Shuttle each week featuring higher ed news from Washington collected by the New England Council, of which NEBHE is a member. This edition is drawn from the Higher Education Update in the Council’s Weekly Washington Report of Dec. 5, 2016. For more information, please visit:


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