CLICK HERE for a video of Congresswoman Bustos questioning Secretary of Education DeVos
WASHINGTON – Today in a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing to review the president’s FY2020 Budget Request for the Department of Education (Department), Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) pressed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on a number of issues including both the Borrower Defense rule and the teacher shortages facing communities in the district.
“Our students and teachers deserve an Education Department that’s going to fight for them and promote success in our classrooms — not undercut their ability to learn and teach,” said Congresswoman Bustos, a member of the Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. “Forcing students into secret proceedings while they are determining how to finance their education is just plain wrong and they should not have their rights stripped from them solely for enrolling in school, which is why upholding the ban on these agreements is so important. On a similar note, teachers have a tremendous impact on the lives of our students and we are selling the next generation short if we do not step up to address the teacher shortage issue. I’ve met with educators across our region to discuss approaches to bringing more teachers into the profession and will continue to fight to fill this gap.”
Specifically, Congresswoman Bustos pushed Secretary DeVos on her past failure to implement the Borrower Defense rule, which would protect and support student’s efforts for relief if they are defrauded when seeking federal student loans. When asked, Secretary DeVos would not commit to upholding the ban on forced arbitration regarding student loan disputes after confirming the Department’s plans to rewrite the rule.
In addition, Congresswoman Bustos sought answers as to why the Department lacks a strategy when it comes to teacher recruitment and retention – especially as areas like the one she represents are combatting teacher shortages. In the past, Secretary DeVos has stated that she wanted to “facilitate the sharing of best practices to bring more teachers into schools,” which is why Congresswoman Bustos followed up to inquire exactly how the Department plans to provide assistance.
The Borrower Defense rule is a policy implemented by the Obama Administration that would increase eligibility criteria for relief available for defrauded student loan borrowers. This rule came in response to the predatory practices of for-profit colleges and it prohibits colleges from forcing students into secretive arbitration agreements to resolve disputes regarding their student loans. Earlier this year, the Trump Administration lost a legal battle over their delay of the regulation. Now, a court has forced the Department of Education to implement the regulation. Secretary DeVos has already signaled her intent to rewrite the rule in another attempt to eliminate these critical protections for students who rely on federal student loans.
Earlier this month, Congresswoman Bustos held Secretary DeVos and the Department of Education accountable for their lack of oversight regarding servicers who are contracted to oversee federal student loan payments. This came after the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Education found that the Department was not acting in the best interest of student borrowers and instead taking advantage of them.
Watch Congresswoman Bustos by clicking HERE or below: