Published: Sun, February 26, 2017
Markets | By Terence Owen

Obama transgender bathroom guidance a 'huge example' of overreach, says DeVos

Obama transgender bathroom guidance a 'huge example' of overreach, says DeVos

This week Trump scrapped the Obama administration guidance, with his Press Secretary Sean Spicer explaining "certain issues like this are not best dealt with at the federal level" - giving a boost to states that want to pass anti-trans laws.

This is a major departure from Attorney General Jeff Sessions' approach to transgender rights. The White House denied those reports.

DeVos, however, has come under fire from LGBT groups for dropping federal guidance - issued during the Obama administration - that directed schools to grant transgender students access to restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. The guidelines are nonbinding, but the Obama administration had warned that schools not following them could be found in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination, and face a loss of federal funding.

In her answer, DeVos waffled between supporting the Trump administration stance and championing civil rights as a broad concept. Now, 14 states and the District of Columbia have traditional school voucher programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.

But during an interview at CPAC with the conservative CNN commentator Kayleigh McEnany, DeVos offered an olive branch to the education establishment, announcing she had arranged to tour a pair of schools with Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers.

DeVos said she took the job as education chief to return "power in education" to parents, communities and states. We need you to call, write, e-mail, tweet and snap every politician who thinks the status quo is OK and that they know better than you when it comes to your - your education.

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"You may have heard some of the "wonderful" things the mainstream media has called me lately", she said. Her nomination was secured only when Vice President Mike Pence broke a 50-50 tie in the Senate.

In her Wednesday statement, DeVos voiced her support for the order, bust added: "We have a responsibility to protect every student in America and ensure that they have the freedom to learn and thrive in a safe and trusted environment".

DeVos' controversial appointment has produced divided opinion among Texas Wesleyan University's School of Education faculty and students.

DeVos reportedly refused to sign off on Sessions' directive, a necessary step for rescission, which caused Sessions to go directly to Trump and ask for his support. "I will visit a school she selects - a traditional public school - and she will visit a choice school".

Many educators, parents and politicians believe that DeVos is heading in the opposite direction if she intends to place her attention on charter and private schools in an attempt to give more people the opportunity to send their kids somewhere other than a public school. Children with incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level - $30,615 to $43,568 for a family of four - are eligible for reduced-price meals, for which students can be charged no more than 40 cents.

A lot of money may hang in the balance: Trump promised a $20 billion school choice program while campaigning in November.

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