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Dept. of Education threatens to withhold $18 million from schools that let transgender athletes compete



Betsy DeVos at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference

The U.S. Department of Education (DOE), led by Betsy DeVos (pictured above), is threatening to withhold $18 million in federal funds from three Connecticut school districts unless they stop following the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s guidelines allowing transgender athletes to compete in sports.

The DOE’s Office for Civil Rights sent a letter to the Groton, Hartford and New Haven school districts telling them that allowing trans students to compete in sports teams matching their gender identities violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a subsection of the law that requires federally funded institutions not to discriminate on the basis of sex.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong has pledged to “vigorously oppose” defunding efforts, but the state’s Democratic Governor Ned Lamont has said he doesn’t want to lose federal dollars over the policy, potentially placing it at risk.

The anti-LGBTQ legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is currently suing five Connecticut school districts over the same policy for the same reasons. The suit, brought by the parents of three cisgender female track athletes makes the same Title IX claims as the DOE and claims that trans girls have an unfair physical advantage which could prevent their daughters from advancing in competitions and winning college scholarships.

Earlier in her tenure, DeVos rolled back Obama-era protections allowing trans students to use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity. She later admitted that she did this even though she knew that it could lead to increased harassment, depression, and possibly suicide among transgender students.

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‘Hurting Tens of Thousands of Borrowers’: Betsy DeVos Sued for Allegedly Refusing to Follow Court Order



Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is being sued for refusing to follow a judge’s order to implement Obama-era regulations. The lawsuit claims DeVos was required to “discharge,” or stop collecting on loans of students who attended for-profit schools and colleges if the institution or their campus had shut down, as The Hill reports.

“It has been nearly two years since these rules should have taken effect, and Secretary DeVos is still dragging her feet and hurting tens of thousands of borrowers through her inaction,” National Student Legal Defense Network (NSLDN) President Aaron Ament said in a statement.

“The students we are trying to help have been doubly victimized – first by the for-profit colleges that deceived them, and now by the federal government that refuses to help.”

The lawsuit says the Education Dept. continues to collect on debts the students should not owe.

The Hill adds that a federal court in October “ruled that the Obama-era debt regulations had to be implemented after over a year of delays by DeVos.”

The Washington Post notes that Secretary DeVos “said that the rule made it too easy for students to cancel their debts and that she intended to replace it with her own version to take effect next year.”

In August the LA Times Editorial Board charged that DeVos “sides with predatory for-profit colleges over America’s students.”





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Betsy DeVos May Seek to Raid Fed Funds for School Guns



Betsy DeVos at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference

Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, in a rebuff to both Democrats and education advocates, has pushed back against requests that she not use federal funds for weapons in schools. DeVos claims that she prefers “flexibility” in her choices.

In a letter to Democratic Representative Bobby Scott, DeVos initially seemed to side with the leader.

“Let me be clear: I have no intention of taking any action concerning the purchase of firearms or firearms training for school staff under the ESEA [Elementary and Secondary Education Act]” read her letter to Scott.

She, however, continued, “While local educational agencies must comply with certain application and fiscal requirements, the ESEA provides ‘substantial flexibility’ in how school districts use these funds to meet the purposes of the program and allows educators to tailor investments based on their own assessments of the needs of their unique student populations.”

A recent New York Times report noted that DeVos was seeking to use $1 billion in Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants for purchasing and training in firearms.

The issue of guns in schools has been a hot-button topic in the wake of numerous school shootings in America, most notable the Parkland shooting which claimed 17 high school students.

Some schools have sought to arm teachers, while others are working to make it harder for schools to have guns on their campus. Arming teachers is widely viewed as a bad idea that could lead to an increase in accidental shootings, while not increasing the chances of stopping an active shooter situation.

In 2017, during Betsy DeVos confirmation hearing, she infamously cited the threat from grizzly bears in schools as a reason for guns being allowed in classrooms.

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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Teacher of the Year Wore LGBT Activism Buttons During Ceremony With Trump – White House Blocked Her Speech



Mandy Manning traveled from Washington State to the White House to receive her National Teacher of the Year award from the president, and she came with a few messages – which the Trump administration blocked.

President Trump delivered a lovely speech during the award ceremony, praising Manning for her work, which he neglected to describe in any detail.

There’s a reason for that.

Manning works with refugee and immigrant students, the very people Trump is waging war against.

During the ceremony, she also engaged in several silent but powerful forms of protest. Manning wore LGBT activism and other political pins on her dress.

One read “Trans Rights Now.” Another was the LGBT Pride rainbow in the shape of a teacher’s apple. There was a pin for the Women’s March, another for the Peace Corps, and one for the Teacher of the Year program.

Manning also handed Trump letters from her refugee and immigrant students,  which she says she hopes he’ll read.

The Guardian posted a video noting Manning did not clap when Trump entered the room, nor did she shake his hand.

None of this was evident during Wednesday’s ceremony, because the White House in an odd move blocked the press from covering her speech at the event.

So she recorded one of her own.

“My goal is to share my student stories,” Manning told CNN. “But to send a message, to not only by immigrants and refugee students but the LGBT community, that they are wanted, they are loved, they are enough and they matter.”

“My aim is to elevate my student’s voices and be that vehicle for them,” she added.



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