Thursday, July 05, 2018

Trump to revoke Obama-era guidelines on race in college admissions

The Trump administration is set on Tuesday to revoke a series of Obama-era guidelines that encourage considering race in the college admissions process as a means of promoting diversity, according to a report.

Two sources told the Wall Street Journal that the move comes as the Justice Department investigates whether Harvard University illegally holds Asian-Americans to a higher standard in the admissions process.

The guidelines — put in place during the Obama administration in 2011 and 2016 — laid out legal recommendations that Trump officials argue “mislead schools to believe that legal forms of affirmative action are simpler to achieve than the law allows,” the paper reported.

Anurima Bargava, who led civil rights enforcement in schools for the Justice Department during Obama’s presidency, disagreed with that assessment, saying the documents simply offered guidelines to schools looking to continue using affirmative action legally.

She said the Trump administration’s move suggests that it doesn’t favor racial diversity.

“The law on this hasn’t changed, and the Supreme Court has twice ruled reaffirming the importance of diversity,” she told the Journal. “This is a purely political attack that benefits nobody.”

Administration officials didn’t immediately respond to the paper’s requests for comment.

The action comes as a lawsuit — filed in 2014 by a group called Students for Fair Admissions — is being pursued in federal court against Harvard.

It alleges that the Ivy League university intentionally discriminates against Asian-Americans by limiting the number of Asians who are admitted. It is expected to go to trial in October.

In 2016, the US Supreme Court reaffirmed the practice in a 4-3 decision — but in his opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy left the door open to future legal challenges by saying schools must continue reviewing their affirmative action policies.

Last week, Kennedy announced his retirement from the high court, and advocates on both sides say his successor — to be nominated Monday by President Trump — may adopt a different take as the Harvard case makes its way through the courts.


DeVos goes deep with anti-regulatory mission at Education Department

For-profit colleges get a break

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is expected to take new steps as early as this week toward reversing Obama-era protections for students in debt to for-profit schools, including those that go out of business. It’s the latest in a broader effort by DeVos to recast the mission of her department and to relax safeguards intended to protect economically vulnerable students.

DeVos is also expected to rewrite rules requiring for-profit schools to equip students with minimal employment skills to qualify for federal aid.

DeVos’ plans to transform her department have gone largely unheralded, despite the outcry that greeted her appointment last year as President Donald Trump’s leading voice on education policy. But her push to ease regulations on for-profit colleges has opened a new front in the Democratic resistance effort, sparking lawsuits from state officials.

California added another legal challenge Friday when the state sued the nation’s biggest loan company, Navient, arguing it had engaged in illegal conduct servicing federal student loans.

Such challenges are a shot across the bow at the administration and DeVos, who is working to redefine a department conceived to advocate for students — not schools or lobbyists seeking financial profits. The debate carries huge significance for U.S. taxpayers, who fund the billions of dollars in student loans and grants DeVos oversees each year.

“With Navient bulldozing students on their loans and the Department of Education gone missing in action, California is moving to stop the abuse,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told NBC News in a statement.

The California suit argues that Navient improperly steered financially distressed borrowers — such as single moms and new graduates — into forbearance, costing them thousands of dollars. It specifically targets federal loans that DeVos and Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, are tasked with policing.

While Trump has touted a broad-based regulatory rollback since taking office, critics say what is about to happen at the Department of Education signals a retreat from its oversight role. And it comes as the president last week proposed to merge the Education and Labor Departments — another indication that the administration wants to scale back oversight.

For-profit colleges came under scrutiny during the Obama administration for targeting low-income and minority students who borrow heavily to pay for them, only to earn often worthless degrees. These colleges overwhelmingly rely on students who take federal student loans and who tend to have a harder time repaying them.

A DeVos spokeswoman dismissed the criticisms of it policies as politically motivated.

“There are not ‘for-profit advocates’” at the department, said spokeswoman Liz Hill. DeVos is “doing what’s best for students, not capriciously targeting schools based on their tax status," Hill said. "She is leveling the playing field, not tilting the scales.”

California has been out front in challenging Trump administration policies, suing the federal government at least 36 times. Now the state is zeroing in on DeVos, a billionaire charter school advocate, and the changing mission of her department.

In her 17 months on the job, DeVos has cut back the department’s sharing of information with the CFPB; brought into leadership of the department a number of individuals who’ve represented for-profit colleges; dismantled a team investigating widespread abuses by for-profit colleges; and at least temporarily reinstated a controversial accrediting agency sanctioned after rubber stamping now-bankrupt schools.

With no experience in public education and a controversial record of charter school creation in her native Michigan, DeVos was a contentious nominee from the start. Her 2017 Senate confirmation process was so divisive that Vice President Mike Pence had to cast a historic tie-breaking vote for her to win Senate approval.

Since then, DeVos has largely escaped the scrutiny directed at other Trump cabinet members, like HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s costly office furniture purchases and EPA Director Scott Pruitt’s various conflicts of interest and heavy spending on security and travel.

DeVos’ regulatory rollback agenda on for-profit colleges could draw her back into the limelight.

More HERE 

Walter Williams: College Destruction of Black Students

Amy Wax, a University of Pennsylvania law professor, has come under attack and scathing criticism because she dared criticize the school's racial preferences program. In an interview with Brown University economist Glenn Loury, discussing affirmative action, Wax mentioned how racial preferences hinder the ability of blacks to succeed academically by admitting them into schools at which they are in over their heads academically. At Penn's seventh-ranked law school, Wax said, she doesn't think that she has ever seen a black law student graduate in the top quarter of his class, and "rarely" is a black student in the top half.

That got her into deep trouble. Penn students and faculty members charged her with racism. Penn Law School Dean Ted Ruger stripped Wax of her duty of teaching her mandatory first-year class on civil procedures. I'm guessing that Penn's law faculty members know Wax's statement is true but think it was something best left unsaid in today's racially charged climate. Ruger might have refuted Wax's claim. He surely has access to student records. He might have listed the number of black law students who were valedictorians and graduated in the top 10 percent of their class. He rightfully chose not to — so as to not provide evidence for Wax's claim.

One study suggests that Wax is absolutely right about academic mismatch. In the early 1990s, the Law School Admission Council collected 27,000 law student records, representing nearly 90 percent of accredited law schools. The study found that after the first year, 51 percent of black law students ranked in the bottom tenth of their class, compared with 5 percent of white students. Two-thirds of black students were in the bottom fifth of their class. Only 10 percent of blacks were in the top half of their class. Twenty-two percent of black students in the LSAC database hadn't passed the bar exam after five attempts, compared with 3 percent of white test takers.

The University of Pennsylvania controversy highlights something very important to black people and the nation. The K-12 education that most blacks receive is grossly fraudulent. Most predominately black schools are costly yet grossly inferior to predominately white schools and are in cities where blacks hold considerable political power, such as Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia. In these and other cities, it's not uncommon for there to be high schools where less than 17 percent of the students test proficient in reading, and often not a single student in such schools tests proficient in math. Nonetheless, many receive high school diplomas.

It's inconceivable that college administrators are unaware that they are admitting students who are ill-prepared and have difficulty performing at the college level. There's no way that four or five years of college can repair the academic damage done to black students throughout their 13 years of primary and secondary education. Partial proof is black student performance at the postgraduate level, such as in law school. Their disadvantage is exaggerated when they are admitted to prestigious Ivy League law schools. It's as if you asked a trainer to teach you how to box and the first fight he got you was with Anthony Joshua or Floyd Mayweather. You might have the potential to ultimately be a good boxer, but you're going to get your brains beaten out before you learn how to bob and weave.

The fact that black students have low class rankings at such high-powered law schools as Penn doesn't mean that they are stupid or uneducable. It means that they've been admitted to schools where they are in over their heads. To admit these students makes white liberals feel better about themselves. It also helps support the jobs of black and white university personnel in charge of diversity and inclusion. The question for black people is whether we can afford to have the best of our youngsters demeaned, degraded and possibly destroyed to make white liberals feel better about themselves. You might ask, "Williams, without affirmative action, what would the University of Pennsylvania Law School do about diversity and inclusion?" I'd say that's Penn's problem.


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