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Betsy DeVos

Secretary of Education

Nominated by Trump: 11-23-2016

Who is Betsy DeVos?

Neither Betsy DeVos nor her children ever attended public school, but she still became the head of the public education system — after then-Vice President Mike Pence broke a 50-50 deadlocked vote over her confirmation in February 2017. Betsy DeVos has shown strong support for men’s rights activists and people who claim that women falsely accused them of rape. Upon joining the administration, DeVos made it her mission to weaken the sexual assault protections of Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. And in May 2020, she led the Education Department in finalizing rules that weakened Title IX and gave more rights to people accused of committing sexual assault at schools.

“Survivors aren't well-served when they are re-traumatized with appeal after appeal because the failed system failed the accused.

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What Betsy DeVos Controlled

U.S. Department of Education

The Education Department is tasked with ensuring equal access to education, including by recommending and implementing policy. It manages financial aid, enforces anti-discrimination laws, conducts research, and identifies problems in schools.

Related Policies

Title IX

Background on Betsy Devos

What the Final Title IX Rule Do

Betsy DeVos announced the final Title IX rules on May 6, 2020. Among other changes, the rules narrow the definition of sexual misconduct and assault; limit who survivors can report to; speed up sexual assaut investigations; reduce schools’ responsibility to investigate sexual assault claims, including letting schools off the hook for responding to assaults that take place off campus; adds protections for accused students, such as letting perpetrators cross-examine survivors in hearings; and allow schools to choose their own standard of evidence.

Washington Post
Funding Anti-LGBTQ, Anti-Abortion Hate Groups

Betsy DeVos and her family have donated millions of dollars to Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, two hate groups that have fought against LGBTQ+ rights, tried to end abortion access, and promoted discrimination against Muslims.

Letting Schools Discriminate

When Betsy DeVos was asked whether she’d revoke federal funds from schools that discriminate against students — like denying admission to LGBTQ+ or Black students — she said state governments should have the “flexibility” to make those decisions themselves.

Chicago Tribune
DeVos Hearing: Sparking Protest

During her confirmation hearing, Betsy DeVos refused to answer whether she’d uphold guidance on how to handle campus sexual assault. In response, #DearBetsy went viral as students shared how Title IX had protected them and why they wanted to retain those protections. The Senate narrowly confirmed DeVos as secretary of education on February 7, 2017.

The Guardian
Implementing the New Title IX Rules

In August 2020, Betsy DeVos implemented the new policy for Title IX, which was based heavily on input from so-called “men’s rights” activists. Activist groups brought lawsuits against DeVos and the Department of Education, saying the rules are discriminatory and go against Congress’ original intent for the civil rights law. The lawsuits were still pending as of January 2021.

Huffington Post
Weakening Sexual Assault Protections Out of Concern for Accused Perpetrators

Soon after being confirmed, Betsy DeVos said she’d review campus sexual assault policies to ensure that accused students — not survivors — are treated fairly due to her concerns about false allegations. In reality, false accusations are extremely rare. Betsy DeVos’s concern for accused perpetrators of sexual assault prompted her to roll back Title IX protections for survivors of sexual assault and harassment at schools.

The Root
Arming Teachers and School Staff with Guns

Betsy DeVos is open to letting schools use federal funds to put guns in schools — even though experts say bringing firearms into schools is extremely dangerous for students.

Weakening Protections for Students with Disabilities

Disability rights groups and other education advocates were alarmed when Betsy DeVos slashed Department of Education guidance that outlined the rights of students with disabilities.

Teen Vogue
Questionable Qualifications

Like other Trump appointees, Betsy DeVos lacked direct qualifications for her role in the administration. She lacked both a professional background in public education and a personal one — she and her children attended private school. She came to the Education Department with no experience as an educator, school administrator, or elected official. DeVos’s views on education include support for what she calls “school choice” and which, under her proposals, can use public money for private and religious school tuition.

US News & World Report