USA TODAY | By Merdie Nzanga | Updated July 19, 2022
WASHINGTON – Betsy DeVos, secretary of education under President Donald Trump, said over the weekend to a conservative group that the department she led should be abolished.
“I personally think the Department of Education should not exist,” she said Saturday during a Moms for Liberty event , in Tampa, Florida, according to Florida Phoenix. DeVos said educational decisions should be left up to states and local boards.
Moms for Liberty’s goal is to “organize, educate and empower parents to defend their parental rights at all levels of government,” according to its website.
DeVos’ comment comes during a time of escalating culture war led by conservatives targeting the teaching of social issues such as race, gender identity, sexual orientation and the desire for parents to have more control over the school curriculum.
Florida passed a bill that bans teaching gender identity and sexual orientation for kindergarten through third-grade students.
In April, the Florida Department of Education rejected more than 50 mathematics textbooks – about 40% of those submitted – for not meeting Florida’s new learning standards or “contained prohibited topics” that referenced critical race theory. Critical race theory is a term used to describe a movement that looks at the intersections of race, law and equity.
In August 2021, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a no-mask mandate in schools.
DeVos is not the only politician to ask for the abolishment of the federal education department. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., introduced a bill in 2017 to get rid of the agency.
He noted that “neither Congress nor the President, through his appointees, has the constitutional authority to dictate how and what our children must learn.”
DeVos, who was secretary of ducation from February 2017 through January 2021, championed charter schools. She also tried to turn over policies from former President Barack Obama’s administration that she argued gave the federal government a role in education. Many of those policies were related to civil rights.
Contributing: Chris Quintana