Secretary of Education Betsey Devos met with an LGBTQ representative shortly before President Trump’s actions on the 23rd of February this year. On the 23rd, President Trump repealed a groundbreaking Obama administration policy allowing transgender students to use the bathroom for the gender they identified with. The move on Devos’ part was not unanticipated, as she has historically been against the Trump administration’s shift in policy. Publically, however, she’s been supportive of the president, with no public criticisms of him or his policy decisions. In regards to the bathroom bill, Devos has been shrewd enough to discuss the methods the previous administration used, instead of targeting the LGBTQ minority involved.
Devos expressed the belief that the bathroom bill was an abuse of the previous commander in chief’s powers. This is a shrewd move on Devos’ part, making sure not to publicly expose cracks in the neonatal Trump administration, while still making her displeasure known in a more private setting. Devos is new to national politics, but she’s no amateur at personality clashes, having made clear her preference for school choice well before her appointment to secretary of education. Her platform for school choice, is deeply influenced both by her ties to the Netherlands, and their policy of equal funding for both public and religious schools, as well as the dominant philosophy of her alma mater, Calvin College.
The 59-year-old is a veteran of school choice battles, and her influence can be seen in the city of Detroit’s large number of charter schools – with little regulation. Critics deride these policies as contributing to the downfall of public education, while Devos argues that the ability to choose what school their child goes to should lead to an open market, in which the top schools receive more pupils, and the lower quality ones are forced to shut their doors.
With more choice for public schools as her top priority, it’s no surprise that Devos didn’t choose to dig her heels in over the Trump repeal of Obama’s bathroom bill – a move that was widely expected, and even demanded by Trump’s larger conservative and religious constituents. The new secretary of education – following a harrowing confirmation that required Vice President Mike Pence to break the tie in her favor – is likely biding her time, to make sure that her main objective – school choice for all – isn’t railroaded later on.
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