He may not officially be an “announced candidate” for governor, but Wisconsin State Superintendent for Public Instruction Tony Evers has already staked out its avenue of attack for the 2018 gubernatorial campaign: President Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
In a fund raising email sent to its supporters last week, “Team Tony Evers” focused completely on what’s happening with federal education policy. Specifically, the recent decision by DeVos and the Department of Education to freeze the July 1 enactment of Obama Era rules regarding loans granted to students who attend so-called, “for-profit” colleges and universities. The rules, known as “Borrower-Defense,” allow for taxpayers to bailout students by erasing their federal student loan debt if the school they’re attending closes while they’re in attendance.
Evers’ campaign then spends the rest of the email soliciting donations to “help elect officials willing to stand up to Trump and DeVos.”
Some background here.
Part of the rationale for Devos’ decision to suspend these rules is due to a federal lawsuit in California over the Obama regulations which was filed in May. Secretary DeVos and Education Department attorneys believe that if the plaintiffs are successful, they would torpedo the regulations before they could even take effect. If that happens, then the entire debate over them is moot.
In addition to pointing at the lawsuit, DeVos – who is not a fan of the final Obama rules – has suggested scrapping them all together and starting over. That decision didn’t sit well with supporters of the rules from taking action.
As a result of this delay, 18 attorneys general (all Democrats) have sued the Trump Education Department as Evers’ demanding the immediate implementation of the the Obama regulations. They claim the rules are needed precautions against fraud and they wish to see a continuation of the Obama administration’s crackdown on the for-profit college industry.
While criticism about some aspects of the for-profit college industry have merit, at the heart of many of them are the Left’s continued antipathy towards choice in education. Like them or not, but for-profit schools have been an option for decades for people looking to better their lives. They offer legitimate career training with course loads in nursing, trade skills, computer programming and other potential careers.
But in recent years, many for-profit schools have been discovered to be nothing more than scams or poorly run operations making claims they couldn’t back up. This has placed those for-profit schools that remain under increased governmental scrutiny (even if they’ve done nothing wrong) and these scandals have given liberal activists fodder to attack Republican politicians who support the idea of having more choice in post-high school education.
As state Superintendent of Public Instruction, Evers has shown himself to be one of the most anti-choice education bureaucrats to ever hold the position. During his tenure as Superintendent of DPI Evers has displayed nothing but contempt for parents choosing what’s best for their children and the schools they attend, while simultaneously giving many failing public schools in Milwaukee the benefit of the doubt after decades of mediocrity. His campaign’s attitude towards for-profit schools appears to indicate he will expand that anti-choice ideology to the governor’s mansion if he were to get there.
Like anything else, the buyer must beware when choosing their post-high school education. As the story of Burlington College and Jane Sanders is showing us, even highly-accredited non-profit, private colleges can be ripe with fraud and mismanagement. Those opposed to the very idea of for-profit colleges are the often the same people who believe that only public schools or public universities can educate the masses.
History has shown us that’s rarely the case.
If Evers’ campaign wants to make his 2018 gubernatorial campaign about his issues with the Trump administration, that’s his prerogative. But it highlight he knows little about the state he’s supposed to be in charge of educating.