Betsy DeVos moves to neutralize Office for Civil Rights… by appointing Candice Jackson to lead it.

Candice Jackson (Mike Wintroath / AP Photo)

Candice Jackson (Mike Wintroath / AP Photo)

By Andrew Pillow

The general antipathy for the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights among republicans is well known. Many on the right have even publicly acknowledged their desire to scale back, or completely eliminate the office all together. However, eliminating such a large component of the Department of Education would be controversial and cost republicans significant time and political capital… at a time when both are at a premium. So Betsy DeVos has done the next best thing… appoint a head who doesn’t believe in the mission.

Enter Candice Jackson.

On Wednesday Betsy DeVos announced Candice Jackson to the position of deputy assistant secretary in the Office for Civil Rights. This is significant because this essentially makes Jackson the acting head of the office until a permanent leader can be found.

Candice Jackson seems like an odd choice for the role at first glance. She has limited experience in education. She also has limited experience in civil rights law. Not too unlike the criticisms levied against DeVos herself when she was appointed. However what Jackson does have is a history of stances that run contrary to the recent trajectory of the office:

  • Jackson is a self-described victim of reverse racism and believes affirmative action “promotes racial discrimination”.
  • Jackson referred to the work of economic historian Murray N. Rothbard as a “monumental achievement”. Rothbard notably opposes compulsory education and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • She has also expressed her displeasure with “feminist culture” which she believes is “moving backwards, not forwards.”
  • Jackson has a history of both supporting and denouncing sexual misconduct victims as she wrote a book about Clinton’s sexual accusers, but labeled Trump’s accusers as “fake victims”.  

You combine all of this with Betsy DeVos’s family history of supporting groups that critics claim undermine LGBT rights and protections and you have essentially unchecked all of the boxes that make up the dominant direction of the Office for Civil Rights over the last 8 years.

So what does all this mean?

Well if you are a democrat you are probably pretty concerned over the pick. (Although you have probably grown use to that feeling by now.) Jackson represents a sharp departure from the Office of Civil rights you have come to know during the Obama administration.  

If you are a republican (or libertarian), you are probably pretty happy with the pick. Not because of the things that Jackson will do, but because of the things she likely won’t. We are probably in for a much smaller, and scaled back Office for Civil Rights and that will suit conservatives who were fed up with the so-called “activist” nature of the office just fine.

Read more about Candice Jackson here. (ProPublica)

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Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.