Politics

Goodbye, Betsy DeVos

Betsy DeVos adjusting her hair at a hearing.
The Trump administration’s most elitist do-nothing. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

So long, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos! It wasn’t just that you were unqualified to lead America’s educational system, as someone who never worked at a public school, attended a public school, or took out a school loan. It was that you were the opposite of qualified, an early example of the Trump administration’s elitist disregard for the very role of government agencies themselves. You sailed into the Department of Education as if sailing into port on one of your yachts, buoyed by your belief that public schools are a “dead end,” your declaration that government “sucks,” and your family’s hundreds of millions of dollars donated to Republican causes.

And yeah, you made the most of the opportunity. You promoted charter and religious schools while ignoring public schools. You reduced protections for victims of sexual assault, for minority students, for gay and trans students. You gleefully ignored a court order and continued to collect loan payments from students at a defunct, fraudulent for-profit university—16,000 times, including wage garnishments and tax seizures.

As chair of the Trump administration’s “school safety commission,” formed after the Parkland shootings, you declined to recommend any gun control measures, but you did rescind an Obama-era guideline instructing schools not to punish minority students more harshly than white ones. Thank goodness!

But it was in 2020, as American schools faced arguably their biggest crisis since the civil rights era, that you really made your contempt for teachers and children plain. As schools across the country sought aid and advice to reopen safely in the fall, you holed up in your Michigan compound, protected by around-the-clock U.S. Marshals that have cost taxpayers as much as $25 million over four years. (You’re the first Cabinet secretary ever to insist on such protection.) From your mansion, you joined Donald Trump’s demands that schools reopen NOW—but offered no support or assistance. The end result: politicizing school reopening as an issue, making it more difficult for schools to open safely. You’ve overseen a slow-motion education disaster that will have lasting effects on an entire generation of children.

And you’ve done it all with a haughty, better-than-this attitude that makes clear just how little of a shit you give. You didn’t give a shit during your confirmation hearings, when you plagiarized your Senate questionnaire and didn’t bother to learn anything about the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.* You didn’t give a shit this summer, when you sniffed, “The secretary of education isn’t the nation’s superintendent.” Well, soon you won’t be the nation’s anything. I can’t wait to never think about you again. You’re expelled.

This is part of a series of goodbyes to Trumpworld figures. Read the rest here.

Correction, Nov. 8, 2020: This post originally misidentified the federal law that governs educational services for students with disabilities. It is the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, not the American With Disabilities Act.