Jeff Bryant: DeVos’s New Hires Signal a Retreat or Abandonment on Civil Rights

Jeff Bryant warns that Betsy DeVos’ new hires spell bad news for protection of civil rights by the U.S. Department of Education.

He writes:

“Already, much has been written about Candice Jackson, DeVos’s deputy assistant secretary and acting head in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights….

“An in-depth profile by ProPublica revealed her “limited background in civil rights law” and her previous writings in which she “denounced feminism and race-based preferences.”

“A recent piece in the New York Times tried to rehabilitate Jackson’s image, noting, “She is a sexual assault survivor, and has been married to her wife for more than a decade.”

“The fact that Candace Jackson is gay does not qualify her to enforce civil rights if she does not believe in enforcement of civil rights,” wrote education historian Diane Ravitch on her personal blog after reading the Times piece.

“A more recent hire for the department’s deputy assistant secretary for higher education programs is former Koch Foundation employee and director of the Individual Rights Defense Program Adam Kissel.

“According to Inside Higher Ed, Kissel has accused universities of “violating the free speech rights of students and faculty. He’s also criticized broader ‘intolerance’ on campuses” and “taken issue with the standard of proof used by colleges in the adjudication of recent sexual harassment and assault cases.”

“Kissel has been a high profile critic of the federal government’s enforcement of Title IX, the federal gender-equity law, and how it’s been applied to campus sexual violence. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Kissel has used op-eds and Twitter to declare, “American higher education is smothered in intolerance of diverse ideas,” a phrase often used to allow hate speech on college campuses.

“Another new DeVos hire with a problematic past related to discrimination is Kimberly Richey, who will serve as deputy assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services.

“Richey was previously the state counsel for Oklahoma’s state superintendent of education Janet Barresi…A 2015 examination by Oklahoma Watch found, “Oklahoma ranked first in the nation in rates of special education students being expelled from schools. It ranked fourth in corporal punishment of such students, 19th in in-school suspensions, 28th in out-of-school suspensions and 20th in arrests.”

“According to state data, students with disabilities “were more likely than their peers to be suspended, expelled, arrested, handcuffed or paddled. In dozens of schools, special education students are anywhere from two to 10 times more likely to be disciplined, the data show. At some schools, every special education student has been physically disciplined, suspended or expelled.”

As the saying goes, personnel is policy.

from sarah http://ift.tt/2sO3HMM

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