The DeVos Principle.

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Can Cap beat up a Bionic Grizzly Bear? Absolutely. she throws stuff directly into the Sun, from sea level, and has been known to lift mountains. Silver Age Alien American Strength.

Can Cap beat up a bionic Grizzly Bear using guns? No. Definitely NOT. Regular Grizzly Bears are pretty hard to do more than annoy with guns, Bionic Grizzly Bears demand at the very least, Bionic Strength. Everyone with a diploma knows this.

Thusly, I debate whether Betsy DeVos has any kind of a diploma at all.

Honestly….this cheap shot wasn’t taken by me, MONTHS ago. Why? Because I kept telling people, educators and non-educators alike, “Look…education is state, not federal. She can’t do much but move around federal education funds, at best.” I was right, but that statement more or less came back to bite me in the ass…like some kind of Bionic Grizzly Bear.

As a result, I’m now taking the cheap shot I should have taken months ago, so that I can use my free speech to tell you about other things you pretty much should know about, and soon, since you are all Voters, True Believers.

First…the Cheap Shot.

Back in January, then “President-elect” Donald Trump’s nominee for education secretary (Ms. DeVos) told lawmakers at her confirmation hearing that guns might have a place in schools due to the threat from grizzly bears. That is not a joke by me, and it was handled intensively by the media…because it is stone crazy. Let’s get some clarity, though, since I want to point out just how embarrassing DeVos’ confirmation was.

Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who has been vocal on gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, asked DeVos if she thought firearms had any place in or around schools. “I think that’s best left to locales and states to decide,” she replied. I think that’s also pretty @#$%ing crazy, since having guns at schools only guarantees that there will be guns at schools…not that they will be on the side of any sort of “good guys.” I know several teachers that lose things constantly…I don’t want that to extend from keys and phones to pistols and so forth.

Pressed on whether she could say “definitively” if guns shouldn’t be in schools, she referred to an earlier remark by Senator Mike Enzi who mentioned an elementary school in Wapiti, Wyoming, that had erected a fence to protect children from wildlife. “I think probably there, I would imagine that there’s probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies,” DeVos said.

Clearly…Ms. DeVos has never been to an actual school. That’s the only conclusion that I can draw from that kind of willfully ignorant statement.

That said, today is when the metaphorical Bionic Grizzly comes home to roost, like some kind of Mega Chicken.

Tuesday, DeVos rolled back two Obama-era memos intended to help protect student loan borrowers.

Student loan contracts aren’t serviced in-house by the Federal Student Aid Office. Instead, they are managed by third-party companies, which are awarded contracts by the government. Before the Obama memos, those contracts went to companies that were best at collecting debts.

Rather than rewarding companies that cashed in on debts, the now-rescinded Obama guidance incentivized a good track record and sought to award contracts to companies with a history of helping borrowers.

While the Obama memos sought to give borrowers more options, transparency and better services as a means to prevent them from defaulting on loans, DeVos said that withdrawing the memos is intended to limit “the cost to taxpayers” and “increase customer service and accountability.” DeVos’ withdrawal memo cited “a lack of consistent objectives” as the reason for rescinding the previous administration’s guidance. You knwo…helping Americans with the grinding debt that their education produced isn’t a “consistent” goal to DeVos, who to my knowledge has never known a mere middle class existence.

So what does DeVos’ move mean for those who have loans?

Attorney Adam Minsky, who has dedicated his practice to helping those with student loans, said the withdrawal only creates more frustration for the borrowers. Loan servicing companies are no longer incentivized to give options to the debtor, instead, the research to navigate the complex system is once again firmly in the hands of borrowers. It’s a cost cutting measure. Student loan expert Heather Jarvis said the changes Obama made were long overdue, and walking them back sends a message to borrowers that the government values the businesses over those with loans.

Sounds about right…for the tone and tenor of the current administration.

“Borrowers don’t get to decide who their servicers are and [the servicers] can make your life miserable if they’re not doing a good job, and they’re not,” Jarvis told NBC News. “For years, the government was content to award contracts based on the collection success of servicers. But Obama became aware of the problems students and families face and decided we want you to do better.”

Another issue Jarvis and Minsky took with the DeVos memo is the justification for the withdrawal. Minsky said that DeVos’ “logic” doesn’t make sense, as taxpayers aren’t affected by the provisions in the Obama memos, but are affected by borrowers defaulting on loans.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday rolled back two Obama-era memos intended to help protect student loan borrowers.

Student loan contracts aren’t serviced in-house by the Federal Student Aid Office. Instead, they are managed by third-party companies, which are awarded contracts by the government. Before the Obama memos, those contracts went to companies that were best at collecting debts.

Rather than rewarding companies that cashed in on debts, the now-rescinded Obama guidance incentivized a good track record and sought to award contracts to companies with a history of helping borrowers.

Related: Security for Betsy DeVos Costing Education Dept. Nearly $8M for 8 Months

While the Obama memos sought to give borrowers more options, transparency and better services as a means to prevent them from defaulting on loans, DeVos said that withdrawing the memos is intended to limit “the cost to taxpayers” and “increase customer service and accountability.”

DeVos’ withdrawal memo cited “a lack of consistent objectives” as the reason for rescinding the previous administration’s guidance.
Image: Betsy DeVos testifies before the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee confirmation hearing
Betsy DeVos testified before the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee confirmation hearing in Washington on Jan. 17. Yuri Gripas / Reuters, file

The Department of Education did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.

So what does DeVos’ move mean for those who have loans?

Attorney Adam Minsky, who has dedicated his practice to helping those with student loans, said the withdrawal only creates more frustration for the borrowers.

“[The Obama memo] alerted servicers that how they deal with borrowers — the outcomes would be a factor in if they’re awarded a contract,” Minsky told NBC News. “[The memo said,] ‘We’re going to consider that.’ And the idea there was to incentivize the servicers to work harder to help borrowers.”

Now, borrowers are going to have to work much harder to figure out the best way to repay their loan and research programs that might benefit them, he said.

Related: DeVos Slammed as ‘Totally Nuts’ for Calling HBCUs ‘Pioneers of School Choice’

Student loan expert Heather Jarvis said the changes Obama made were long overdue, and walking them back sends a message to borrowers that the government values the businesses over those with loans.
““I don’t understand how it’s costly to taxpayers — it costs taxpayer money when borrowers default on loans and don’t pay their loans.””

“Borrowers don’t get to decide who their servicers are and [the servicers] can make your life miserable if they’re not doing a good job, and they’re not,” Jarvis told NBC News. “For years, the government was content to award contracts based on the collection success of servicers. But Obama became aware of the problems students and families face and decided we want you to do better.”

Jarvis said because the contracts are lucrative, companies will be responsive to the signals the government is sending.

Another issue Jarvis and Minsky took with the DeVos memo is the justification for the withdrawal.

Minsky said DeVos’ logic doesn’t make sense, as taxpayers aren’t affected by the provisions in the Obama memos, but are affected by borrowers defaulting on loans.

“I don’t understand her reasoning,” Minsky said. “I don’t understand how it’s costly to taxpayers — it costs taxpayer money when borrowers default on loans and don’t pay their loans. She certainly hasn’t, I think, made an effective argument to justify saving money.”

Jarvis called the withdrawal “ridiculous,” adding that student loan borrowers are American taxpayers.

In a statement, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a government agency that protects consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices, said borrowers deserve the best possible service from those issuing their loans. “Borrowers deserve to be treated fairly and should be able to repay their debt without having to deal with illegal loan servicing practices. The CFPB will continue to find ways, working with all of our partners, to support and protect the 44 million Americans with student debt,” a CFPB spokesperson said in response to this madness.

Really, True Believers…asking to treat the borrowers fairly isn’t asking for much.

“[Obama’s memo] was the least they could do, and it was hardly anything,” Jarvis said. “It wasn’t a requirement, and I think pulling that back — it’s a signal to big businesses that [the government is] on your side. You’re more important to us than student loan borrowers.”

There is hope though, in the Legislature.

Senators have been calling out DeVos in open letters, and public statements, as she tries to amend long standing loan forgiveness deals. In addition…the legislators have been busy, busy little suits with actual bills, that we need to stay on top of.

One of them is the “College For All” Act.

The “College for All Act” was proposed on April 3rd by a group of Congress members (including Bernie Sanders) and includes a bill that would have been introduced to the House of Representatives on that Wednesday. As a part of the proposed legislation, students of families earning less than $125,000 a year would have free public tuition.

Such a bill, which would also work to reduce the almost $2 trillion in student debt, has been floated by Sen. Sanders in the past and stands in contrast to President Trump’s plans for student debt, which would cap tuition repayment at 12.5 percent and forgive all direct loans after 15 years instead of 20. But such plans haven’t been formally introduced to Congress yet and raise questions (such as: What happens to existing provisions that forgive student debt before a 15-year period?)

Since Mr. Trump’s education secretary, Ms. DeVos seems more interested in managing the business side of student loans (which she in turn profits from), Mr. Trump’s payment cap and forgiveness after fifteen years may turn out to be something lost in the shuffle. Where loan holders like myself are understandably upset by that, the “College for All Act” is a solid step that would at least allow those younger than me…say…my students, to avoid such grinding debt burdens as they try and better themselves.

If you’re all about those kinds of reform, let your local representatives know. They will read your emails, and they will take your calls. Honestly, they will. It’s an important kind of “grass roots” politics that lets your views be known in a direct way to the people that we have elected, and stand up for us in these trouble times.

DeVos’ policies are all about a business bottom line that benefits her bottom line…not about anything that impacts real students. In fact, this student loan walk back in policy directly makes life harder for my students, who will invariably take out loans as part of their Aid Package, and have little to no understanding of basic finance.

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