We all cringed when Donald Trump met with Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr. back in November and unofficially offered him the role of Secretary of Education. Falwell turned it down, he said, because he couldn’t handle the 4-6 year commitment Trump wanted.
The nomination was eventually given to Republican donor Betsy DeVos, someone who also has no business in the position, given her lack of experience in any similar role and the way she’s decimated public education in her home state of Michigan.
But while DeVos’ nomination is still being debated, it looks like Falwell will be in a position to influence public education regardless of what happens.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Falwell has been tapped to lead a “Federal Task Force on Higher-Ed Policy”:
The exact scope, size, and mission of the task force has yet to be formally announced. But in an interview, Mr. Falwell said he sees it as a response to what he called “overreaching regulation” and micromanagement by the department in areas like accreditation and policies that affect colleges’ student-recruiting behavior, like the new “borrower defense to repayment” regulations.
“The goal is to pare it back and give colleges and their accrediting agencies more leeway in governing their affairs,” said Mr. Falwell, who said he had been discussing possible issues with several other college leaders and at least one head of an accrediting agency for the past two months. “I’ve got notebooks full of issues,” he said.
Make no mistake: This isn’t about economics. Falwell’s mission, much like his reprehensible father’s, has always been to spread a fundamentalist brand of Christianity through everything he does. He denies evolution and climate change, suppresses dissenting opinions at his own university, wants students to be able to carry concealed weapons on campus, and has been dealing with a sexual assault scandal at Liberty.
No wonder he wants less regulation. He can’t even meet basic standards of academic integrity and student safety — so why not make sure no school has to meet those standards? The bigger question is how far-reaching this role will be. If his past positions are any indication, public universities would be wise to push back against any or all of his recommendations.
Also disturbing is what Falwell said of his role, assuming DeVos would soon be confirmed:
“The task force will be a big help to her. It will do some of the work for her.”
So there you have it. We’re about to have two people placed in roles that’ll give them the power to screw over public education.
Remember this in 2020 when voters whine about how candidates from both parties are equally bad and urge you to vote for a third party.