Sec. DeVos and Education Department Face Lawsuits Over For-Profit Colleges that Defrauded Students

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education are currently facing 2 more lawsuits filed against them by 2 different student advocacy groups. One of which was filed by Harvard University’s “Project on Predatory Student Lending.” The other lawsuit filed by National Student Legal Defense Network, is also in behalf of students who were similarly misled by for-profit colleges operated by Dream Center Education Holdings.

Currently, the Dream Center Education Holdings is also the subject of investigations by a Congressional House Committee. Apparently, Dream Center was able to collect millions in financial aid and student loan proceeds, by accepting enrollees who were made to believe that 2 of its institutions still possessed the appropriate accreditation to offer college education. The House Committee on Education wants to find out the role played by Ms. DeVos and the Department of Education, in allowing a similar case as that of Corinthian Colleges, to recur.

About the Lawsuit Filed by “Project on Predatory Student Lending”

This early, Federal Judge Sallie Kim of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco issued a civil contempt order against Ms. DeVos. She also sanctioned the Department of Education with a $100K fine for failing to comply with the order to submit up to date monthly reports of student loans from which payments were continuously collected; nor has the department submitted an explanation on why they should not be cited for contempt and sanction.

Judge Kim’s order is in light of findings related to the class action suit filed by the “Project on Predatory Student Lending Department of Education” of Harvard University. The latter filed a lawsuit on behalf of students defrauded by the for-profit Corinthian Colleges, which offered college education and collected tuition payments despite the institution’s lack of accreditation from the U.S. Department of Education.

In a ruling, Judge Kim wrote that the defendants, Ms. DeVos and the Department of Education, are in clear violation of the preliminary injunction order not to collect on those debts. The federal judge also ruled that such violation caused further harm to individual borrowers who were still forced to pay loans either voluntarily or involuntarily. The involuntary method was carried out, either by way of wage garnishments or reduction of tax refunds, which has an adverse impact, as far as a student borrower’s credit rating is concerned.

The up to date reports on student loans were required in order to confirm the current status of the debts.

According to Director Toby Merrill of the Project on Predatory Student Lending, the department collected incorrect loan payments from 16,034 students, 1808 of whom involuntarily paid by way of wage and/or benefits garnishment, or through the application of their tax refund. Some 3,289 student borrowers claim that the education department collected loan payments for which they had no obligation to pay.

Understanding California’s “Cradle to Career” Data Collection System and Its importance to Californians

When California’s newly elected governor Gavin Newsom came to office, he brought with him a plan to introduce the “Cradle-to-Career system. The latter being a program designed to expand and integrate universal preschool and high quality child care with existing educational programs by investing in new and strategic infrastructure.

Branded as a collectivist rather than a leftist, the Democratic governor’s “Cradle to Career” System is part of his “California Promise” of alleviating the effects of the 1978 Referendum that approved property tax cuts. Since the tax cuts meant substantial reductions in annual government income, the reduction was then compensated by the whitling down of the state’s budget for public education. .

As a result, through the 40 years of slashed budgets for public education, public schools were met with ballooning class sizes, while curriculums for arts, driver education and afterschool programs were taken out as public education expenses.

Drawing inspiration and information from Stanford University’s Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), Governor Newsom obtained a clear picture of how children in California are behind in terms of knowledge, even before they enroll in kindergarten. Although California students show ability to learn at rates equal or better when compared to the national average, the wide gap in terms of achievement between students coming from low-income amd middle-income families, was given focus.

Significance of Governor Newsom’s “Cradle to Career” System

Support from California’s legislature is evidenced by the passing of the 2019-2020 State Budget for education, which took into consideration the $10 million budget proposed by the Newsom administration. .

The CA legislature passed a lengthy bill to support of the “Cradle to Career Data System” that was included in the state’s 2019-2020 budget for education expenses. The bill outlines the steps to be undertaken over the next 18 months. The Act also delineates the features and contents of the Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) and of how it will be regulated, who will be allowed access to the data contained therein and how security and privacy measures will be maintained.

The SLDS connects all California student records across existing data systems, to the California Department of Education and to the systemwide offices of the California State University, University of California and California Community Colleges, as well as to the state workforce data. Data will be accessible to different audiences by way of reports and analysis tools for use in research aimed at creating education policies and practices that aim to achieve a more equitable and better results for all students.

The significance of the SLDS is that it will give the Department of Education and other interested audiences, information on which schools produce high school graduates who successfully advance to college, and who among them succeeded in earning post secondary certificates and college degrees.

SDLS reports will also provide information about the workforce to which high school graduates who do not directly enroll in college, become affiliated. Data will also give insights on a per major and per degree/credential basis the level of success achieved by graduates of California’s post secondary institution, in the workforce entered.

Since California is a melting pot of nearly all types of race and ethnicity, all information furnished by the SLDS, will provide similar insights on outcomes based on students’ ethnicity, race, level of income, state region, and other important factors.

Family Loses Legal Battle to Challenge Germany’s Homeschooling Ban

Last January 2019, a Germany family’s long enduring struggle in legally assert their right to home school their children ended, but not in the family’s favor. The final verdict was handed down by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), who did not find fault with the German government’s method of imposing the country’s nationwide ban on homeschooling.

Back in August 2013, seven (7) social workers accompanied by thirty-three (33) police officers showed up at the home of the Wunderlich family; with threats of force opening the door if the Wunderlich parents refused to let the social workers take away their four (4) children. The action was taken because Dirk and Petra Wunderlich wanted to maintain their right to educate their children at home, in the same way as millions of parents do in other countries.

Although the Wunderlich children were later returned to their parents, the family had to agree to enroll their children at the local public school.Still, Dirk and Petra continued to wage their battle against the law that prohibits them from making decisions on how to educate their children. Perhaps with the encouragement of those who also want to gain freedom to choose the alternative method of education afforded to parents in other countries.

 

As the turn of events has it, the Wunderlichs have no other option but to abide by their country’s ban on homeschooling.

How the ECHR Ruled on the Wunderlich’s Legal Challenge to Germany’s Homeschooling Ban

In a 16-page ruling, the ECHR stated that Germany’s removal of the Wunderlich’s children from their home is not a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, re: right to respect private and family life.

 

Although the children were removed from the Wunderlich home, the 3-week duration was not deemed by the ECHR, as longer than what was necessary.

The temporary removal of the Wunderlich children from the care of Dirk and Petra was ruled as relevant to the rationale behind Germany’s homeschooling ban. As argued by the lawyers who represented the German state, the reason why Germany does not allow homeschooling is because the country wants to prevent the potential emergence of “parallel societies.”

In the case of the Wunderlich family, the ECHR noted the refusal of Dirk and Petra in 2012 and 2013 to cooperate with the state’s youth office, in conducting a learning assessment of their children.

What to Do When Homeschooling Becomes a Necessity

Homeschooling one’s child or children becomes a necessity if a certain family situation makes formal schooling a difficult route to take.

A mother suffering from a back injury that rendered her a less able member of a parenting partnership is one such issue. In situations like these, a lot of sacrifices have to be made; not only with financial matters but also in the lifestyle of every family member. A back injury after all, is not something that heals quickly. Moreover, it requires limitation of physical activity and a stress-free environment.

Homeschooling can ease out the rigidity and rigors of having to follow a daily schedule. Since learning hours and performance of educational activities of a home-based education can be flexible, each child’s homeschool curriculum can be tailored around the circumstances and present situation of the household.

Still, for whatever reason parents look to homeschooling as a method of giving their children the education they need, they must first do some research when new to the concept of home-based education.

Federal and State Laws Governing Homeschooling

It may surprise some parents to note that there are no specific federal laws that must be observed when choosing to homeschool a child. This is where the so-called “power-of-the-purse” or funding control at a higher level is not present, because the federal government does not include appropriations for home-based education. That being the case regulations and requirements depend on the state in which homeschooling will be adopted as an alternative method of learning.

State laws vary; some have lax rules, while others impose rigid requirements. The first thing that parents should look into is, how to best meet the requirements of their state, as far as home-based education is concerned.

Homeschooling Curriculum

In order to make home-based schooling an effective and efficient method of providing education for their children, parents should have an idea of how to choose the right homeschooling curriculum.

Every state law requires teaching the four basic knowledge; reading, grammar, spelling and math. Choosing the right type of curriculum matters, as it depends on a child’s or even the family’s learning style. The best way to determine this is to first combine curriculums presented in different approaches and from there, find out the most effective learning approach to use.

The Home School Environment

The home school environment refers not only to the physical setup of a home. It is also a matter of giving the child and the parent-teacher the support they need. After all, not all parents who take on the responsibility of educating a child are properly trained to handle the learning attitude and behaviors manifested by that child. More so if more than one is being homeschooled.

Going back to our example in which homeschooling will be an option taken because a mother suffered a back injury, a home environment can also be influenced by her medical condition. In knowing that their mother will eventually recover and recuperate, children will be less anxious and therefore become more receptive to the idea of being homeschooled.

As an aside, it will also be helpful to know more about back injury, its treatments, therapy or even surgery by looking up websites of medical institutes that handle spinal injury or disorders, like the Central Texas Spine Institute in Austin.

Homeschooling : Are There Rules and Regulations to Follow?

Now that you have decided to homeschool your child, the next step is to know of any state rules and regulations to which you and your child must abide. Actually, the rules and regulations vary across different states, which means knowing and understanding them is your first area of concern.

Rules and regulations include options available to parents seeking to enroll their child in a homeschooling program. Other requirements include notification, parent qualification, study schedule, instructions and subjects, record keeping, as well as assessment and evaluation. Some laws address homeschooling for children with special needs, or those considered as “at risk.” In some states, participating in public school athletics is also regulated or not allowed at all.

Notice of Homeschooling as May be Required by a State

The states of Arkansas, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Texas, do not require notification or any form of communication with state education officials throughout the homeschooling period.

State authorities in Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, North Carolina, Nevada, Oregon and Utah require parents to file a one-time notification at the start of a homeschooling program. All other states not included among those stated above, require annual filing of a Homeschool Notification from the onset, until completion of a child’s home-based education.
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Homeschooling Options per State

Options for homeschooling pertain to the type of organization that will oversee implementation of state requirements with regard to record keeping, assessment and evaluation, study schedule and curriculum pertaining to a child’s homeschool program.

New Jersey, Massachusetts, Idaho, Oklahoma and Connecticut do not have specific laws pertaining to homeschooling. Any home-based program offered within those states have no particular rules on alternative forms of education.

South Carolina, Maryland, West Virginia and Tennessee, have homeschool laws that make multiple options available; such as programs offered by a school district, or through an umbrella of private schools or associations. The states of Florida, Colorado, Alaska, Maryland, Maine, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio and Washington also have statutes for homeschool options but are flexible. Parents are permitted to enroll their child in any legal home education program even outside the criteria of state statutes.

In Alabama, and in Tennessee,homeschooling are coursed through church schools only, while in Washington a home-based program must be an extension of a private school offering

States that Require Parents to Have Educational or Mentoring Qualifications

The states of California, New Mexico, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, North and South Carolina, North Dakota, Washington, Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee, allow a child to be homeschooled only if parents possess educational qualifications. Washington, which allows homeschool as extension of a private school, requires parents to at least have college credits or have completed a home-based study course.