Betsy DeVos became President Donald Trump’s education secretary on February 7, 2017, following Vice President Mike Pence’s vote to break a Senate deadlock—an inauspicious first for a Cabinet-level confirmation. Furious opposition to her nomination came from the nation’s teachers unions: American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten called DeVos an “ideological” opponent of public education.
But DeVos’ tenure has shown that she’s an ideological opponent, not of public education, but of public education managed by federal bureaucrats. And she includes herself in that.
“I would not be at all unhappy to work myself out of a job,” she says.
A former chair of the Michigan Republican Party, DeVos was known as an advocate for vouchers, charter schools, and more educational options for parents well before President Trump offered her the nation’s top ed job. These issues became even more relevant in 2020, after the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to close or go virtual, leaving millions of families in the lurch. With teachers unions all over the country fighting on behalf of their members to stop schools from reopening, many parents might be feeling ideologically opposed to the K–12 status quo as well.