Advocacy

DeVos Abandons a Lifetime of Local Advocacy to Demand Schools Reopen

Secretary of Education Betsy Devos, at a White House coronavirus task force briefing at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. (Jason Andrew/The New York Times)
Secretary of Education Betsy Devos, at a White House coronavirus task force briefing at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. (Jason Andrew/The New York Times)

WASHINGTON — As the nation’s public schools plunged into crisis at the outset of the coronavirus outbreak, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos stuck to the message of decades of conservative education advocacy.

She championed her trademark policies of local and parental control, freeing states of federal mandates, loosening rules and funding opportunities that she said would help schools “rethink education” outside their brick-and-mortar buildings.

But now, as President Donald Trump pushes public schools to reopen this fall, DeVos is demanding they do as Washington says, a stance diametrically opposite to how she has led the department. Already a partisan lightning rod, she has become the face of the Trump administration’s efforts to pry open the schoolhouse doors through force and

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