By Ryan Miner
Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alec Ross is calling on the University of Baltimore to cancel its invitation to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to speak at its fall commencement.
Gubernatorial candidate Alec Ross calls on University of Baltimore to Cancel Betsy DeVos Fall Commencement Invitation
Baltimore, MD – Today, Democratic candidate for governor Alec Ross issued the following statement responding to the University of Baltimore’s announcement that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would be their fall commencement speaker:
“Betsy DeVos has spent her entire career attempting to destroy public education and is now attacking protections for sexual assault survivors on campus. The University of Baltimore’s decision to invite her to speak at their fall commencement is an insult to the hardworking graduates of the class of 2017 that should spend graduation day celebrating their accomplishment
Ross, a former Obama administration official and Baltimore City public school teacher, is billing himself as the education candidate – and rightly so. He’s the only Democrat in the Democratic gubernatorial race yet to release a comprehensive and impressive education plan for Maryland (more on his solid plan in a later posting).
But calling on the University to cancel DeVos’ speech? Come on.
What is the education value in stifling speech with which you disagree? DeVos certainly won’t be promogulating any form of hate speech. She’s a conservative Republican billionaire who is simply out of touch with most public school students and parents.
More speech is always the answer – never less. You may not agree with DeVos’ education vision, but that reason alone should not eliminate her from speaking on a college campus as the head of the unconstitutional Education Department.
Ross went even further, releasing an email blast encouraging students to walk out in protest of DeVos’ impending speech. He says he’ll march alongside said students in the walkout.
Last week, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that the Trump administration would begin a regulatory rulemaking process designed to protect college students from sexual assault while also protecting the fundamental constitutional rights of the accused.
While Ross claims that DeVos is “attacking protections for sexual assault survivors on college campuses,” David French of National Review writes,
More precisely, DeVos signaled her intention to withdraw the Obama administration’s 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter that unilaterally and lawlessly required universities to adjudicate sexual-assault claims under a preponderance-of-the-evidence standard (the accused is responsible if there’s a 50.1 percent probability he committed the crime) but without protecting due process. Obama’s policy resulted in a kangaroo-court system where accused students often don’t have access to counsel, the ability to effectively cross-examine their accuser (indeed, the Obama admin specifically urged that accused students not be permitted to cross-examine accusers), or even access to all the evidence in the case.
It is my impression that DeVos is working to protect students from having their due process trampled on by college campuses. While the details of DeVos’ plan hasn’t been fully revealed, the Trump administration certainly isn’t lessening protections for sexual assault victims. If they do, I’ll be the first to stand up and call them out.
In other words, writes French,
DeVos may well require schools to protect students’ ability to employ counsel, cross-examine witnesses, see the evidence against them, and try their cases before a truly impartial tribunal. This is basic stuff. It’s the essence of due process, and it’s unthinkable for any person facing such serious, state-mandated charges to face justice without these basic protections.
Due process is a bedrock constitutional principle in our American system of legal justice. It’s incumbent on all college campuses to exercise judicial restraint and protect the foundations of our Constitution, allowing all sides to be fairly heard.
French goes on to write,
Justice demands that agents of the state actually prove their case through a fair and impartial proceeding before punishing any person. We apply this standard when police catch a murderer in the act of taking a life. We apply it when the evidence is overwhelming and an entire community thirsts for vengeance. We apply it no matter the odds of a conviction, and — critically — we apply it no matter the ideology or identity of the parties.
I am no DeVos fan – for a number of reasons.
I certainly believe President Trump could have selected someone entirely more qualified than the billionaire DeVos to lead a department that should never have been created in the first place.
Betsy DeVos did not attend public schools. She didn’t even send her kids to public schools, either. DeVos has never had to take out federal loans to pay for her and her children’s education. She truly doesn’t understand the plight of parents, nor am I even confident that she fully grasps the intricacies of federal education policy.
While I am a major proponent our public school system, I am, however, a supporter of school choice and local control. DeVos, who seemingly shares similar policy sentiments as me, isn’t the right choice to implement a massive overhaul of federal education policy.
Although, no time is better than now to advocate for the complete abolishment of the entire federal Department of Education. Where in our Constitution does a federal Department of Education find its roots?
The 10th Amendment in our Bill of Rights is rather explicit: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
The power to set education policy is reserved to the states. The federal government has no business being involved in our education system.