Betsy DeVos Gave Almost $500,000 Meant For Low Income Students to Private Schools
It was reported by the New York Times on Friday that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has taken $180 million from the $30 billion coronavirus relief fund and given millions to private and religious schools. The money is meant to help low-income students during the pandemic. The New York Times said that the money was meant “to encourage states to create ‘microgrants’ that parents of elementary and secondary school students can use to pay for educational services, including private school tuition. She has directed school districts to share millions of dollars designated for low-income students with wealthy private schools.” The report went on to say that “she has nearly depleted the funding set aside for struggling colleges to bolster small colleges — many of them private, religious or on the margins of higher education — regardless of need.”
It's hard to overstate how incredibly stupid this action was. The statutory language did not require it. It said use the funds for those places with the most unmet need and within that to prioritize places who had gotten less than $500k. pic.twitter.com/cGjmaVDQqB
— Ben Miller (@EduBenM) May 1, 2020
The report also pointed out that $19 million of the relief money was given to those schools with “bible” or a “Christian” name. According to Salon, over $50 million was given to seminary schools. Fringe schools are receiving the most money per student. One school called the Dragon Rises College of Oriental Medicine is receiving $10,000 for each student despite only having 49students on campus. Compared to $550 per student that Delgado Community College will receive despite being located in New Orleans. New Orleans has become a major epicenter of COVID-19.
Not all schools plan to accept the money from DeVos. God’s Bible School and College Vice President for Academic Affairs, Aaron D. Profitt, said that his school will be fine with smaller donations. He told Salon, “Of course, when you get a letter from the Department of Education giving you money, you start thinking about all the good things you can do,” he said. “But when I read the CARES Act, the intention was not to do all the good things you could do but try to meet needs. We are trying to cooperate with the law as written.”
The Press Secretary for the Department of Education denied the claims made in the New York Times article. Angela Morabito said, “The NYT piece contains several inaccuracies, not the least of which is that the secretary is absolutely not favoring any one type of school over another,” Morabito said of DeVos. “She is implementing the CARES Act as it was written, and the same advice still holds: If a school is wealthy enough not to need taxpayer dollars to help keep their students learning, we highly recommend that they do not draw down the funds.”
Ben Miller responded to the article in a tweet criticizing the action. Betsy DeVos has been one of the most criticized in the Trump administration. We will see what effect these decisions will have on low-income students and their education goals during this pandemic.