Corinthian Colleges, Inc. was yet another for-profit university that screwed over hundreds of thousands of people with pyramid schemes that promised a higher education at the end of some labyrinthine maze. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2015, and the U.S. government ruled that any students with outstanding debts should have those debts cancelled.
That was before Betsy DeVos became the U.S. Secretary of Education.
DeVos, the wife of pyramid scheme pioneer Dick DeVos and brother of famed mercenary Blackwater founder Erik Prince, was unsurprisingly unforgiving of the students who were conned by Corinthian. She stonewalled more than 100,000 loan forgiveness applications and continued pursuing debt payments from screwed-over students who couldn't pay them back. In 2018, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim finally told her to knock it off (legally).
Spoiler alert: she didn't listen.
So they landed back in court earlier this week on Monday, October 7, 2019. Judge Kim was (understandably) quite irate at having her court order violated sixteen thousand times by Devos's department. While the issue is still not completely resolved, the judge did threaten the possibility of tossing someone behind bars. From Bloomberg:
"I’m not sure if this is contempt or sanctions," U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim told lawyers for the Education Department at a hearing Monday in San Francisco. "I'm not sending anyone to jail yet but it’s good to know I have that ability."
"At best it is gross negligence, at worst it’s an intentional flouting of my order."
I'm not holding my breath for DeVos to actually spend any time in jail or prison, of course. Read the rest
Pyramid schemes are illegal, but "multi-level marketing" schemes are not; the difference is supposedly that pyramid schemes don't really sell anything -- they just sell the right to recruit people who will recruit people who will recruit people, each paying up the pyramid to their "uplines" -- while MLMs supposedly actually sell stuff.
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Betsy DeVos used personal email accounts for her government work as the Secretary of Education in 'limited' cases, the Inspector General said. The report also found DeVos did not consistently preserve her government-related email messages properly, as is required by federal law. Read the rest
The teachers' rebellion is a global phenomenon, and though it's been brewing for a long time, the public was a lot more skeptical of teachers' demands when they were striking in Democratic strongholds under a Democratic president.
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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.
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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
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
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).
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
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
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