There's good news and bad news. The good news is that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has selected someone to temporarily lead the agency's civil rights division. The bad news is that DeVos' choice complained of anti-white discrimination when she was a college student, and once referred to women who've accused Donald Trump of sexual assault as "fake victims."
On Wednesday, DeVos announced that she's tapped lawyer Candice Jackson to serve as deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. That position doesn't require Senate confirmation, yet will result in Jackson becoming the acting chief of the office and, as a result, in charge of around 550 full-time staffers. It's a powerful position.
But as an undergraduate at Stanford, Jackson once criticized the school for offering extra instructional assistance to minority students, as reported by ProPublica, calling the practice "discriminatory" against white students like herself. According to ProPublica, Jackson had sought entry into the program in question, only to find that it was reserved for minority students.
“As with most liberal solutions to a problem, giving special assistance to minority students is a band-aid solution to a deep problem,” Jackson wrote in the Stanford Review. “No one, least of all the minority student, is well served by receiving special treatment based on race or ethnicity.” She contended that the program "promotes racial discrimination," and that the university should not be "assuming competence or incompetence based on race."
One summer, Jackson did a fellowship at the Ludwig von Mises Institution, a libertarian think thank. There, she provided "editorial assistance" to a book that advocated, among other things, the end of government-mandated schooling, according to ProPublica.
Jackson later became a staunch critic of the Clintons, and wrote a book dedicated to highlighting allegations of sexual assault against Bill. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Jackson — along with longtime Trump associate Roger Stone and others — helped arrange to bring several of Bill's accusers to a presidential debate. However, when more than 10 women accused Trump of sexual harassment, Jackson wrote said that Trump's accusers were "fake victims."
"[E]vidence is piling up that shows these recent accusers against Trump are, frankly, fake victims," Jackson wrote in Facebook post that she later deleted. "Falsely painting yourself as a victim is not only horribly unfair to the person wrongly accused; it's also an insult to real victims." Trump has consistently denied all allegations of sexual misconduct.
Given that she has both praised and vilified women who've made sexual harassment claims, it's unclear how she will tackle such complaints in the education system from her post. The same goes for conflicts involving race discrimination — will Jackson give claims of "anti-white discrimination" just as much weight as others? A spokesperson for the Department of Education told Bustle, "Candice Jackson is highly qualified attorney who has a track record of standing up for victims and survivors of sexual assault, and the Department is astounded by the outlandish attempts to besmirch her reputation."
The appointment of DeVos, a longtime Republican donor, to lead the Department of Education was controversial, and comments she made in her confirmation hearing led some on the left to question her policy bona fides. Her decision to have Jackson lead the agency's civil rights office probably isn't going to quell that criticism any time soon.