Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s Task Force on Higher Education to “Do Some of the Work” for Betsy DeVos
Herewith is Goldie Blumenstyk’s article from the Chronicle of Higher Education in it’s entirety:
Jerry L. Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, has been asked by President Trump to head up a new task force that will identify changes that should be made to the U.S. Department of Education’s policies and procedures, Mr. Falwell told The Chronicle on Tuesday.
The exact scope, size, and mission of the task force has yet to be formally announced. But in an interview, Mr. Falwell said he sees it as a response to what he called “overreaching regulation” and micromanagement by the department in areas like accreditation and policies that affect colleges’ student-recruiting behavior, like the new “borrower defense to repayment” regulations.
“The goal is to pare it back and give colleges and their accrediting agencies more leeway in governing their affairs,” said Mr. Falwell, who said he had been discussing possible issues with several other college leaders and at least one head of an accrediting agency for the past two months. “I’ve got notebooks full of issues,” he said.
Mr. Falwell said Mr. Trump had first asked him to head up the task force in November, when the two met at Trump Tower in New York. At the time, Mr. Falwell said he had declined Mr. Trump’s offer to become U.S. education secretary because “I wanted a role that would allow me to stay at Liberty.”
Mr. Falwell praised President Trump’s nominee for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, whom he met for the first time recently, at a service at the Washington National Cathedral. “The task force will be a big help to her. It will do some of the work for her.”
He kept the task-force offer private until Tuesday, when Steve Bannon, President Trump’s chief strategist, gave him the green light to discuss it, according to Mr. Falwell.
There is a lot to like in this article if you are a currently unaccredited post-secondary for-profit institution seeking students. It appears likely that the federal government is going to come to your rescue by loosening the accreditation standards, limiting debt forgiveness to students who fail to pay back their loans, and likely opening the door for more public funds to flow to religiously affiliated institutions.
And presumably there’s a a lot to like if you are a Republican Senator who needs to cast a vote of support for Ms. DeVos. You are now assured that Ms. DeVos, who lacks of experience and knowledge in post-secondary education, will be assisted by an expert (sic) like Jerry Falwell, Jr.
And presumably there’s also a lot to like if are the leader of a post secondary institution because you now know that there will be someone in the Department of Education who has overseen a university and is familiar with the challenges you face in meeting the needs of a diverse student body.
In reality, I’m sure most college leaders and college teachers felt a chill like I did when they read that the oversight of their institutions is in the hands of a fundamentalist Christian who questions evolutionary theory and adheres to Biblical truth. Scientists, humanitarians, and mainstream theologians are probably rolling their eyes in dismay.
But what stands out to me is the last sentence. As the days pass, it is increasingly evident that the real power in Washington is in the hands of President Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon.