Virginia Foxx, Republican Congresswoman from North Carolina CD-5 and outspoken opponent of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, will be chair the House Subcommittee on Higher Education. Her office announced this on January 4, 2011.
She called Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard’s terribly violent death at the hands of two homophobic men “a hoax.” Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mother, happened to be in the audience at the House of Representatives that day to hear the cruel remark during debate on the bill. Only after public pressure did Foxx apologize and say it was a “poor choice of words.”
TAKE ACTION: Sign the petition now demanding that she step down!
That Congresswoman Foxx will now have power over the lives of young men and women in colleges and universities in this country is appalling and unacceptable. It is an ongoing injury not only to the Shepard family, but is a thumb in the eye of over 300 groups in coalition engaged in eleven years of civil rights activism. It’s also her failure to recognize that the law passed with support from 73% of the American public for efforts to get an expanded hate crimes prevention law passed.
Foxx should step down immediately.
Her callous remark has already proven her insensitivity to the lives of young people, especially those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered, or are perceived to be so.
Her disagreement with President Obama’s plan to spur higher college graduation rates calls into question her values as a former college educator and president. In a Chronicle of Higher Education interview, she made clear that she opposes every single one of the President’s policies.
President Obama calls Americans to increase college graduation, enable more students from modest backgrounds to use community college as a stepping stone to a four-year degree, and has removed the costly banker-middlemen who added little value to the college loan process:
Ms. Foxx has criticized legislation that ended the bank-based program for supplying federal student loans in favor of 100-percent direct lending, in which students obtain their loans from the Department of Education. She said on Tuesday that the bill “eliminated choice, competition, and innovations from student lending,” and promised hearings aimed at making “improvements to a very flawed law.”
Virginia Foxx would put the middleman back.
In every way, she supports making college more expensive and out of reach for aspiring students.
Her support of for-profit colleges calls into question her judgment: they’ve been the subject of investigation in the Senate for numerous instances of strong-arm enrollment tactics and financial aid shenanigans, and appear to prey on veterans trying to use their benefits to complete their educations.
She may also take the lead in Republican efforts to block or overturn recent Education Department rules that could hurt for-profit colleges, though that job could fall to the education committee chairman, John Kline of Minnesota. The most controversial of the rules is the gainful-employment rule, which would cut off federal student aid to programs whose graduates carry high debt relative to income and have low loan-repayment rates.
In the past, Ms. Foxx has been a friend of for-profit colleges. The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, which represents for-profit colleges, donated $3,000 to her 2008 re-election campaign through its political-action committee, and employees of Keiser University gave $2,300. Harris N. Miller, the president of the private-sector association, welcomed Ms. Foxx’s appointment, saying she has “shown a lot of interest in our sector.”
Her prior experience as an educator reflects no sign of compassion, understanding, or appreciation for the struggles of college-bound youth. The donations she’s gotten from the sleazy for-profit higher education industry clearly holds sway over her.
President Obama took the bold and historic step of safeguarding everyone’s civil rights after nearly a decade of delays by the Bush administration.
Sign the petition to get someone who’s knowledgeable and open-minded to chair this subcommittee!
Photo credit: Public domain, Foxx's wesbite