Education Secretary DeVos Leaves a Troubled Legacy

Education Secretary DeVos Leaves a Troubled Legacy

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos resigned from her post effective Jan. 8, 2021, saying there was “no mistaking” the impact that President Donald Trump’s rhetoric had on the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Here, five scholars offer their views on DeVos’ legacy at the federal agency she headed for four years.


Former Sen. Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, for one, was not sure whether DeVos really supported or understood the testing requirements of the law. After listening to her apparently struggle to explain the difference between testing for proficiency or growth, Franken replied: “It surprises me that you don’t know this issue.” Every Democratic senator, and two Republicans, voted against her nomination. DeVos became secretary only because Vice President Mike Pence cast the deciding vote. Before the vote, Franken said: “It was the most embarrassing confirmation hearing that I have ever seen.”

Senate Democrats, it turns out, did not need to worry about DeVos’ commitment to federal testing requirements.


In the spring of 2019, the U.S. Department of Education warned Arizona that it could lose $340 million in federal education funds. Why? Because their state education plan did not use a single test for all high school students in the state. Arizona wanted to offer school districts a “menu of assessments,” but the Trump team rejected that plan.

Miguel Cardona, President-elect Joe Biden’s choice for secretary of education, has reaffirmed his commitment to federally mandated standardized testing as a tool of equity. Ultimately, DeVos’ reign at the Department of Education will not have changed the testing regime between the Obama and Biden administrations.

The Conversation

Mark Hlavacik, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, University of North Texas; Dustin Hornbeck, Postdoctoral Research Fellow of Educational Leadership and Policy, University of Texas Arlington; Kevin Welner, Professor, Education Policy & Law; Director, National Education Policy Center, University of Colorado Boulder; Nicholas Tampio, Professor of Political Science, Fordham University, and Stanley S. Litow, Visting Professor of the Pratice, Public Policy, Duke University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Image: Reuters