In a farewell letter to Congress on Monday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urged lawmakers to reject Joe Biden’s education agenda, while imploring them to shield Trump administration policies that Biden has promised to eliminate.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos resigns
DeVos does not explicitly acknowledge President Donald Trump’s election disputes nor does she refer to Joe Biden by name. Instead, her letter offers lawmakers “some encouragement and closing thoughts.” As DeVos prepares to exit the Education Department, she says the coronavirus pandemic has exposed much that is “not encouraging” about U.S. education.
“While my time as Secretary is finite, my time as an advocate for children and students knows no limits,” she said in the letter, obtained by The Associated Press. It was sent to leaders in the House and Senate and to committees that oversee the Education Department.
DeVos offered an unemotional farewell to a Congress that had a chilly relationship with her from the start. Her 2017 Senate confirmation required a tiebreaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence, and she remained a persistent target for Democrats in both chambers.
DeVos made no mention of those disputes but instead offered “sincere gratitude for your partnership” on a range of education issues. Most of her major policies, however, were enacted through federal rulemaking and not through legislation passed by Congress. In her letter, she pledged to continue working with Congress “doing what’s right for America’s students.”
"You don't need college to learn stuff, everything is available basically for free. You can learn anything you want for free, it is not a question of learning … I think colleges are basically for fun & to prove you could do your chores but they're not for learning" — @elonmusk pic.twitter.com/67huRlTEy4
— Pranay Pathole (@PPathole) January 4, 2021
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Throughout his campaign, Biden characterized DeVos as an enemy of public schools, unqualified to lead the Education Department. He drew support from teachers unions after he vowed to nominate an education chief who, unlike DeVos, had experience working in public education.
Biden’s nominee, Miguel Cardona, is the state education chief in Connecticut and a former teacher and assistant superintendent in a public district. He has drawn attention for his work to close student achievement gaps and to advocate for schools to reopen during the pandemic.
DeVos’ letter directly opposes several of Biden’s top education priorities, including his proposal to triple federal Title I funding for schools serving low-income students. The letters says federal education funding has already tripled since 1960 but has failed to translate to better outcomes on standardized tests.
She also blasted proposals to make college free for certain students and to erase huge swaths of student debt, which have both been backed by Biden.
“I hope you also reject misguided calls to make college ‘free’ and require the two-thirds of Americans who didn’t take on student debt or who responsibly paid off their student loans to pay for the loans of those who have not done the same,” she said.