Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is expected to resign from the Trump administration, Politico reports.
DeVos has attracted controversy since her nomination. A billionaire Republican donor who is a longtime advocate of school vouchers, she has no background in education or public-school policymaking. At her nomination hearing, she was mocked for a seeming lack of understanding of the educational system and for asserting that schools should have guns to protect students from grizzly bears. She was approved by Congress by one vote.
In Washington, DeVos finds herself without much power to change the K-12 system, or agenda besides advocating for “school choice” vouchers. A Republican Congress shot down her budget proposal to fund that initiative. Meanwhile, Several senior positions in the department sit unfilled.
“Morale is terrible at the department,” said Thomas Toch, the director of FutureEd, an independent education think tank at Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy. “I’ll tell you, in Washington education circles, the conversation is already about the post-DeVos landscape, because the assumption is she won’t stay long. I think she’s been probably one of the most ineffective people to ever hold the job.”
Politico notes that Toch’s assessment was “somewhat harsher” than those of other department employees, who offer a “collective shrug” to the stasis that has resulted from DeVos realizing the limits of her power.
DeVos has been able to affect more change at the college level. She has deregulated the for-profit college industry that was reined in by the Obama administration for its abuses and lack of accountability; revised the rule for defrauded students to get loan forgiveness; attempted to consolidate student loans under one servicing company; and retracted the Obama-era Title IX guidance on sexual assault cases.
But DeVos’s stated vision amounts to little more than talking up “school choice” and undoing what Obama did, which is the clock seems to be ticking on her tenure. “If there’s one thing DeVos has learned so far, it’s that getting your way in Washington requires time, patience and government savvy — three things she does not have,” the profile says.