DeVos and Trump Aim to Privatize the American School System
The official mission statement of the U.S. Department of Education is to,”Promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.” Although this has been the mission statement of the U.S. Department of Education for over 20 years, the current actions of the Donald Trump administration and most specifically U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos say otherwise.
Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama worked to hold public schools across the nation accountable using test scores (the dreaded standardized testing at the end of the school year). Bush and Obama used standardized test scores to measure school and classroom quality and student performance. DeVos and Trump have stated that their top priority for education is to “expand school choice,” in other words, privatize public school education.
Not only have Trump and DeVos made moves to privatize public school education, they have their sights on completely revamping student loan repayment programs. Under the Obama administration, Obama worked to federalize student loans, meaning that students dealt with and borrowed from the federal government instead of private loan companies. Although Obama federalized student loans, according to USA Today, there are a total of nine private servicers that handle student loans. Because federal student loans were handled by a plethora of private institutions, former students were allegedly “misled about their repayment options” and wrongly led to default on their student loans.
DeVos wants to consolidate the nine private institutions into one contract. Meaning that she wants one private company to handle all of the over 44 million student loan accounts. The problem with privatizing student loans is that all of the power will be with one company. While this move might make it easier for students to communicate with their servicer, it also poses potential risks because student loan borrowers will not be informed of their repayment options.
This would give one private organization a monopoly over the student loan market. According to USA Today, DeVos claims that by offering one, single company a contract, it would save American taxpayers approximately $130 million dollars over a five-year period.