U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has called on the National Education Association (NEA) to drop its politically-motivated lawsuit and stop standing in the way of students working to complete their post-secondary education program.

The NEA recently sued the department over its delay in implementing Obama-era rules that govern state standards for online education. The rules require, among other things, that all institutions providing distance education to students in another state document that the state has a process for those students to complain against that institution.

Unfortunately, not all states have the required complaint processes or interstate agreements in place. As a result, the 2016 regulation would deny federal aid to a number of students receiving distance education because their institutions cannot meet the complaint process requirement in one or more states.

In delaying the rule, the Department had clearly articulated that states were not well positioned to implement it and that there would be severe consequences to students as a result. That led, among other things, to the Department achieving a historic consensus in negotiated rulemaking on an amended state authorization rule that would address this and other problems in the 2016 rule. The NEA ignored that bipartisan agreement and instead pursued its litigation, resulting in today’s unfortunate circumstances.

“This is just one of many consequences of the previous administration’s flawed state authorization rule that we worked to help students avoid. But the NEA has chosen to try and score political points rather than put students first,” said Secretary DeVos. “I urge the NEA to do the right thing and stop blocking the Department’s efforts to delay the 2016 State Authorization Distance Education regulation so that students enrolled in distance education programs at nonprofit and public institutions may continue their education. Groups like the American Council on Education and Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education have warned that the poorly written regulation would give rise to ‘unintended consequences with the possibility of significant harm to students.’ That day has come. It’s time for the NEA and its allies to drop the pointless politics, get out of the way and let the Department fix these regulations so students can focus on their education.”

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