Press Release

California Joins AFT and Student Defense in Legal Efforts to Restore the Gainful Employment Rule

For Release: 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020


Andrew Crook
o: 202-393-8637 | c: 607-280-6603

WASHINGTON, DCAmerican Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Student Defense President Aaron Ament issued statements today responding to the announcement that the State of California sued Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos over her illegal repeal of the Gainful Employment Rule. 

California designated the lawsuit as related to one filed in January by Student Defense, on behalf of the AFT, the California Federation of Teachers, and two individual members. That lawsuit accuses Secretary DeVos and the Department of violating federal law by pushing through a repeal riddled with errors and unfounded assertions. California’s lawsuit today makes similar allegations, and lays out how the repeal particularly harms low-income and minority students, who are more likely to attend for-profit programs that have been deregulated.

Student Defense President Aaron Ament said: “At a time when students need to know that higher education is a path to a strong economic future, the repeal of the gainful employment rule is an indefensible betrayal of students. We are excited to be working with Attorney General Becerra, and I look forward to the Court reinstating these critical protections for students.”

AFT President Randi Weingarten said: “The State of California—and the entire nation—knows Betsy DeVos is determined to hurt defrauded students and help her friends who run failing for-profit colleges. Her repeal of the gainful employment rule damages students' ability to hold colleges accountable to the promises they made to provide a real education. By gutting gainful employment she has gutted these students' rights and, in the middle of a pandemic with millions losing their jobs, the offensiveness and impact is multiplied. We welcome California's participation with open arms and are certain this case will be decided swiftly in our favor.”​

AFT and Student Defense’s lawsuit asks the court to vacate the repeal and reinstate the Gainful Employment Rule, and thus restore vital protections for students considering enrolling in a career-certificate program or a for-profit college. By the Department of Education’s own estimates, the lawsuit also stands to save taxpayers $5.3 billion by ending the flow of federal funds to failing programs.

More information about AFT and Student Defense’s lawsuit can be found here: AFT v. DeVos


Student Defense is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that works, through litigation and advocacy, to advance students’ rights to educational opportunity and to ensure that higher education provides a launching point for economic mobility

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.