Independent auditor: Trump has made it impossible for students defrauded by predatory diploma mills to get their loans cancelled

The US Department of Education's Inspector General has released a report saying that the DoE has stopped cancelling the debts of students who were defrauded by fake universities. Read the rest

Puerto Rico's streets crawl with heavily armed, masked mercenaries bearing no insignia or nametags

Though Puerto Rican law prohibits ownership and bearing of most long-guns and especially semiautomatic weapons, the streets of the stricken US colony now throng with mercenaries in tactical gear bearing such arms, their faces masked. They wear no insignia or nametags and won't say who they work for, apart from vague statements in broken Spanish: "We work with the government. It’s a humanitarian mission, we’re helping Puerto Rico." Read the rest

Kids who attend online charters perform like traditional students who miss the whole year

Stanford's Center for Research on Education Outcomes released this study in 2015, comparing the outcomes for students enrolled in online charter schools with comparable students (controlled for grade level, gender, race/ethnicity, free lunch eligibility, English language status, special ed status and historical state achievement test scores) in brick-and-mortar classrooms. Read the rest

U.S. court tosses murder conviction of Blackwater guard Nicholas Slatten in massacre of 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians

A U.S. Federal appeals court today threw out the murder conviction of former Blackwater security guard Nicholas Slatten, who had been sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 2007 massacre of 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad.

Slatten and other former staff of military security contractor Blackwater (renamed Xe Services, now Academi, run by Erik Prince, brother of Trump DOE chief Betsy DeVos) were the focus of a high-profile legal case that has stretched on for a full decade.

Dozens of people from Iraq traveled to the United States for the trial, as we reported ten years ago here on Boing Boing. And the judge who sentenced Slatten to life in prison decided he was a nice guy who deserved a break (from the death penalty).

From Reuters:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered a new trial after tossing out the murder conviction of former security contractor Nicholas Slatten.

The three-judge panel said Slatten should have had a separate trial instead of being tried alongside his former colleagues. At a new trial, Slatten would be able to introduce evidence that one of his co-defendants had fired the first shot.

Separately, the court said Paul Slough, Dustin Heard and Evan Liberty, who were all convicted of manslaughter and other offenses over their respective roles in the incident, should be re-sentenced because their 30-year prison terms were too long. The court also threw out one of Liberty's convictions for attempted manslaughter.

No word from the Justice Department, or lawyers for the defendants. Read the rest

Betsy DeVos confirmed as Education Secretary thanks to 'historic tiebreaking vote' from VP Mike Pence

Another day, another grim historical first for America. The Senate just confirmed Betsy DeVos as education secretary after a 'historic tiebreaking vote' from Vice President Mike Pence.

Both DeVos and Pence are fans of widely discredited LGBT 'conversion therapy,' a damaging and inhumane bullshit practice we'll probably see a lot more of now, along with guns in schools to protect kids from grizzly bears and jihadists.

Read the rest

Trump's anti-education Education Secretary owes millions in election fraud fines

Betsy DeVos is the self-described neo-Calvinist and wife of the heir to the Amway fortune who's devoted her life to fighting against public education through a system of vouchers that allow for public funding of religious schools; in accord with the trumpian maxim of "a fox for every henhouse," she has been selected to serve as Trump's Education Secretary. Read the rest