Betsy DeVos says Dept of Education shouldn’t even exist, urges private sector to step up

Trump-era Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in an interview this week with the American Enterprise Institute that the Department of Education shouldn’t even exist.

She made the bold declaration while describing how career bureaucrats within the department and within the whole education industry, period, are so stubbornly wedded to the “antiquated approach[es]” of the past.

“This notion that everybody needs to go to a four-year college … and bringing everybody to a physical location for a set amount of time in a school year. That’s an antiquated approach. It might be the great thing for a certain number of students, but there should be a lot of other avenues and opportunities,” she said.

“Thinking more creatively about what the opportunities are for careers today and how you’re going to actually meet those demands, I think is, you know, the private sector has to be really pushing and leading on this because I don’t see a lot of higher ed institutions taking the steps they need to take.”

The interviewer responded by noting the political aspect.

Watch the full back-and-forth exchange below:

“It’s pretty easy for Democratic administrations to empower career staff because they feel broadly aligned, whereas for some of the stuff you’re talking about — things that kind of go very much against the grain, talking about apprenticeship programs, which are uncomfortable for higher ed, talking about radical deregulation or expansions of choice — lot of career staff who have strong relationships with constituent groups may not be on board,” the interviewer said.

In other words, it’s much harder for a Republican administration like that under former President Donald Trump to implement change within the DOE because the administration’s goals rarely match those of the department’s career bureaucrats.

The interviewer then asked DeVos how she’d personally handled this. That’s when she broached the idea of just eliminating the department altogether and instead allowing the private sector to handle the issue of education.

“I’ve said often, I frankly don’t think the Department of Education should exist. That would get rid of a lot of the [problems]. … The creative reforms that we advanced, we really had to essentially work around most of the career staff because there were very few who would actually get the work done that needed to be done. Or [they] would present options that weren’t even close to what we were attempting to do,” she said.

“There are a lot of really nice and well-meaning people there. I don’t mean to disparage them in any way. But they are definitely oriented around being in their roles for probably most of their careers, if not all of them, and most of them don’t have really insight into what the rest of the world is really functioning like. So you’re never going to have the creativity in a large bureaucracy that you’re going to have to really upend and change what isn’t working.”

Conservatives and libertarians alike have long argued for the DOE to be eliminated.

During her tenure in office, DeVos implemented common-sense changes to the Title IX rules that were instituted during former President Barack Hussin Obama’s presidency.

The original rules did away with due process in cases involving sexual harassment/assault. Thanks to the rules, a stunning number of innocent boys wound up being kicked out of college over false allegations

DeVos’ successful rule changes ameliorated the dilemma by adding due process back into the system.

But the moment current President Joe Biden took office, he immediately began calling for the changes to be rolled back.

One bit of irony is that before DeVos left office in January of 2021, she told her staff to “resist” the incoming new president’s agenda.

“Let me leave you with this plea: Resist. Be the resistance against forces that will derail you from doing what’s right for students. In everything you do, please put students first — always,” she said in leaked audio reviewed by Politico in December of 2020.

But it appears her call for resistance hasn’t worked.

The Biden DOE is now further rewriting Title IX rules “to socially engineer every aspect of the educational experience—from student speech and school athletics to high-school locker room use and relationships between adult college students,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

“These draft rules, leaked to the media in dribs and drabs, have been delayed repeatedly to avoid organized backlash. Behind the scenes, the administration is telling educational institutions that the rules are a fait accompli, demanding enforcement that curtails freedom of speech, due process and women’s rights,” the outlet reported earlier this month.

Note that whereas DeVos’ Title IX changes took four whole years to implement due to slow-walking career bureaucrats, Biden’s desired changes appear to be moving at lightening-fast speed …


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