Betsy DeVos, who led the U.S. Department of Education under former President Donald Trump, now says the department should no longer exist, an assertion many Trump voters urged him to work to make a reality during his 2016 campaign.
“I personally think the Department of Education should not exist,” DeVos said Saturday during a Moms for Liberty education summit in Tampa, Florida.
Trump's Education Secretary Betsy DeVos calls for abolishing department https://t.co/UXmqpvcjFx
— Moms for Liberty (@Moms4Liberty) July 18, 2022
The choice of DeVos as education secretary after Trump’s victory in the 2016 election was met with opposition from both conservatives and the left.
Teachers’ unions opposed the former secretary’s support for school choice, claiming that allowing taxpayer funds to follow the child would draw funds from public schools.
Grassroots conservative parent groups pointed to DeVos’s association with Jeb Bush and the fact that she served on boards of organizations that promoted the Common Core State Standards.
After her nomination, DeVos denied she was a supporter of Common Core, and, then, in January 2018, claimed in a speech that Common Core was “dead” at her department.
“Except it’s not dead,” wrote Alex Newman at The New American. “In fact, like Frankenstein, the Common Core zombie marches onward, eating out the brains of millions of government-school victims – all with help, approval, funding, and support from the federal Leviathan behind the curtain. So, while DeVos’ speech publicly lambasting the havoc unleashed by the feds in education sounded great, it does not come close to reflecting reality.”
Sheri Few, president and founder of U.S. Parents Involved in Education (USPIE), an organization formed in 2014 with a specific mission to abolish the U.S. Department of Education and end federal education mandates, said in a statement to The Star News Network that on the issue of ending the federal department, “We are pleased Betsy DeVos agrees with USPIE’s mission.”
“However, since DeVos supported Common Core so strongly, we remain extremely cautious about her other recommendations,” Few said, adding:
Common Core remains intact in every state outside of Florida, despite the mounting evidence that the standards have destroyed student achievement. For example, before Common Core in Betsy DeVos’s home state of Michigan, 75% of third graders could read on grade level. Now, only 45% of Michigan third graders read on grade level, despite increased enrollment in charter schools in Michigan, which is the core “solution” to America’s education problems as proposed by Betsy DeVos.
David Randall, the director of research at the National Association of Scholars, said in comments to The Star News Network following DeVos’s statement about the abolition of her former department:
It would be wonderful to put an end to the Education Department, but even firm, small-government politicians are more likely to speak about ending the Education Department when they are campaigning, or when they have retired, than when they are in office.
Randall, the executive director of Civics Alliance, a coalition that has recently released its social studies standard called “American Birthright,” continued that while American voters should be focused on electing candidates “who will put an end to federalized control of education,” they should also “realize that it would require a huge expenditure of political capital, as well as filibuster-proof control of the Presidency, the Senate, and the House, and that politicians are likely to defer that battle to focus on other priorities.”
“Voters should elect candidates who, in addition to seeking the end of the Education Department, have endorsed detailed policy proposals to reduce the Education Department’s regulatory and financial power,” he advised:
They should also seek out candidates who have endorsed detailed policy proposals that will use the Education Department’s remaining power to support due process, religious freedom, freedom of speech, and every other First Amendment freedom, and to oppose Critical Race Theory and all other discriminatory ideologies. They should ensure that even if the Education Department cannot be ended, reformers’ control of the Education Department still produces good policies.
“Voters should seek out real reform of the Education Department, in defense of American liberty,” Randall asserted, “but not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]