Betsy Devos tells Education Dept staffers they should ‘resist’ incoming Biden admin: ‘Put students first’

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has urged staffers to “resist” Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s administration if, in fact, he and Sen. Kamala Harris become president and vice president.

“Let me leave you with this plea: Resist,” DeVos said at a department-wide virtual meeting, according to audio leaked to Politico. “Be the resistance against forces that will derail you from doing what’s right for students. In everything you do, please put students first — always.”

The ‘resist’ mantra was adopted by the left shortly after President Donald Trump won office in 2016, and has been used ever since.

According to the leaked audio, Devos told Education Department staffers that her objective “in everything we accomplished was to do what’s right for students.” She added that “four years later it’s still my focus and it’s still my hope for all of you.”

Politico reported that DeVos frequently warred with careerists at the department in her attempts to enact her policy visions. That includes entanglements with the department’s union regarding reorganizations and policies within the workplace, including telework rules.

She also blamed career bureaucrats for slow-walking her policy directives, a frequent complaint over the years by political appointees in regard to similar behaviors in most, if not all, of the federal government’s hundreds of agencies.

“This building has caused more problems than it solved,” she told Reason magazine earlier this fall. “I would not be at all unhappy to work myself out of a job.”

DeVos’s appointment was adamantly opposed by the nation’s public school unions because she has long been an advocate for school vouchers, school choice, and charter schools as a means of allowing parents to have greater choices for their children.

As for her accomplishments, DeVos counts her overhaul of Title IX rules that pertain to sexual assault and misconduct in public schools and on college campuses. The Obama administration engaged in “heavy-handed guidance in the form of a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter from the federal Office for Civil Rights” which led to campuses abandoning “norms of due process in sexual misconduct hearings,” Reason reported.

It took DeVos two years to write and issue a new rule restoring what supporters say is simply basic fairness to the procedures. The rule took effect on Aug. 14, though it’s not clear that it will survive a potentially incoming Biden administration.

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DeVos also discussed her vision of allowing more local control for schools.

“The previous administration went exactly the opposite direction and overreached in multiple areas. Much of what I’ve had to do is come back and undo a lot of that. But at the same time, there are plenty of folks who’ve been critical of my not implementing all kinds of conservative policies that, in my view, would be desirable for students and their families,” she told Reason.

“I view this department as one that probably never should have been stood up. I think there are ample arguments for it having gotten more in the way of students and their futures than actually being any kind of value-add,” she added.

The Education Department was formed Oct. 17, 1979, during President Jimmy Carter’s only term.

Jon Dougherty

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