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Exit DeVos

New York Teacher

Betsy DeVos will likely go down in history as the worst U.S. education secretary ever.

A Michigan billionaire who sought to gut public schools in her own state, she was appointed despite having no experience in a public school. Not as a student, a teacher or an administrator. Her fealty was to vouchers and charter schools.

DeVos did grievous harm in her four years at the helm: She rolled back protections for transgender students and made it harder for women to bring charges of sexual assault on campuses.

DeVos took the side of student loan collectors who demanded every penny for for-profit education outfits that often provided little more than debt for students looking for a path out of poverty.

But DeVos met her share of hurdles, from both Congress and the courts. Her much-touted $5 billion K–12 voucher plan died in Congress. Federal lawmakers also shot down her attempts to expand charter schools and thwarted her effort to cut funding for after-school and school lunch programs and even the Special Olympics.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit in the spring, DeVos insisted it was not the job of her department to track outbreaks in the schools and pressed for all schools to reopen in September regardless of the risks.

The CARES Act included $6 billion for emergency grants to help college students pay for food, rent and other expenses. DeVos made sure more than 200,000 students brought to the United States as children, who are registered in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, did not see one penny of that assistance.

DeVos also wanted to use a portion of the relief funds in the federal CARES Act for the education and transportation needs of private schools, regardless of how many low-income students attended those schools. Three federal judges found that interpretation of the law an overreach, and she backed down.

We will be glad to see the last of Betsy DeVos.

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