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Harvey, Irma, DACA And Campus Sexual Assault


Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spoke this week about campus sexual assault and enforcement of Title IX at George Mason University in Arlington, Va.
Jacquelyn Martin, AP

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spoke this week about campus sexual assault and enforcement of Title IX at George Mason University in Arlington, Va.

It's hard to believe all this could happen in just one week, but here we are with the weekly roundup.

Widespread disruption from Harvey and Irma

Six of the nation's 10 largest school districtsPuerto Rico, Miami-Dade, Broward County, Houston ISD, Hillsborough County and Orange County — were shuttered this week because of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Houston schools are scheduled to reopen on Monday, with three free meals a day for students. Florida school buildings and campuses are being readied as shelters and staging grounds for supplies as Hurricane Irma heads north.

Educators and students react to the cancellation of DACA

The Trump administration announced Tuesday the end of the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. President Trump gave Congress a six-month deadline to find a solution.

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The decision leaves around 800,000 young people who arrived in this country as children in limbo. Many are students.

"Thousands of educators" and students across the country are "struggling with what happens next," NPR Ed's Claudio Sanchez reported. The University of California system has filed suit against Trump's administration for "wrongly and unconstitutionally violating the rights of the University and its [DACA] students."

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told CBS News that "my heart is with" DACA recipients, but "we are a nation of laws" and said Congress should address the issue. Her statements contrasted with those in a letter signed by five former education secretaries, who wrote, "We must not, we cannot, let these children down."

Leaders of colleges such as the City University of New York, the University of California and the Miami Dade College have pledged material and legal support for their DACA students.

DeVos will rewrite Obama-era guidance on campus sex misconduct

In an emotional speech at George Mason University on Thursday, DeVos decried what she said was a "failed system" for investigating sexual misconduct complaints at K-12 schools and colleges and universities. She announced a public notice and comment process to rewrite guidance issued by the Obama administration that resulted in stepped-up enforcement of Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education.

DeVos' emphasis on the plight of those accused of sexual misconduct — she used the word "accused" 13 times in her speech — drew sharp criticism from survivors' and feminist groups.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said in a statement, "Secretary DeVos just made an open invitation to colleges to once again sweep this national epidemic under the rug."

"Today, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made campuses safer for rapists by putting the concerns of survivors on par with those accused," said a representative statement from SurvJustice, a nonprofit group for survivors of sexual violence.

But the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a free speech and civil liberties group, said in a statement: "Basic procedural safeguards like the presumption of innocence are critically lacking at many top universities, particularly during sexual misconduct proceedings."

Senate committee nixes Trump's education cuts, choice programs

Those big cuts to education spending in the president's budget proposal? Ain't happening, according to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which voted this week. The president's proposed cut of 13.5 percent to the education budget became a modest increase. Teacher training and after-school programs were spared. And the president's proposals to increase charters and vouchers were deep-sixed as well. Some funds are coming out of the Pell Grant surplus for needy college students, though. Of course, the budget is still a long way from becoming law.

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