Good riddance Betsy DeVos


Ryan Houston-Dial

Photo by Ryan Houston-Dial

Jaida Sloan, Staff writer

The former Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, will be remembered as perhaps the most dangerous and inapt education secretaries in history. During DeVos’ tenure, she has pushed for school choice, cutting federal funding for education, and rolling back protections for vulnerable students. 

DeVos, a Michigan billionaire who called public education a “dead end,” has no relevant experience as an educator and has no degrees in education. DeVos, throughout her tenure, demonstrated a disastrous level of incompetence, but no interview is more paragon of her astounding lack of knowledge about public education than her infamous interview on “60 Minutes” in 2018. When interviewer Lesley Stahl asked her if she had visited any struggling public schools to figure out what’s not working, DeVos flailed.

 “I have not,” DeVos began, “I have not — I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming. … Maybe I should. Yes.”

Another key moment during her tenure was when DeVos, a known proponent of education as a local affair, threatened to cut off federal funding to schools that refused to reopen mid-pandemic. Even more telling was DeVos’ response to schools seeking guidance on how to reopen. She claimed it was not her responsibility to track school district infection rates or keep track of school reopening plans.

Beyond DeVos’ incompetence, DeVos’ budget was downright hostile towards public education proposing massive cuts while reallocating billions to private and charter schools. She proposed cutting $9 billion from the federal education budget. In addition, DeVos used federal coronavirus-relief funds to create a $180-million voucher program for private and religious schools and has ordered states to redistribute CARES Act funds to private schools. At the same time, DeVos blocked emergency COVID-19 aid to DACA students.

Her most egregious crime of all was her efforts to roll back protections for vulnerable students. DeVos revoked civil rights protections for minority children, as well as, guidelines protecting transgender students from discrimination. She has also substantially weakened students’ protections under Title IX and the borrower defense to repayment rule.

Education advocates made their position abundantly clear as they rejoiced in the departure of Betsy DeVos. 

“Betsy DeVos’s confirmation hearing was the first indication that she was unfit to serve as secretary of education, and unfortunately, the last four years have proven that theory right,” Tamara Hiler, education policy director for the centrist group Third Way commented to Inside Higher Education. “As Senator Warren noted last night, Secretary DeVos will likely be remembered as one of the worst secretaries of education we’ve ever had for her clear devotion to ideology and special interests over the students she was appointed to serve.”