Conservative groups rally behind effort to seize power over school boards and enact right-wing agenda
Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos headlined a gathering of right-wing education activists who are seeking to reshape the US education system to fit conservative values over the weekend – and she declared her support for abolishing her former agency entirely.
Ms DeVos, who once was put in charge of thousands of Department of Education employees who manage crucial functions of the US education system and provide critical oversight of schools at the federal level, said on Saturday that she would get rid of the entire department if she had the power to do so.
“I personally think the Department of Education should not exist,” she said at the “Moms for Liberty” event, according to the Florida Phoenix.
She was interviewed by the group’s co-founder, Tiffany Justice, who in her own remarks referred to unions of teachers in America as “cartel” participants.
The group’s purpose for meeting over the weekend was more than just listening to an ex-Cabinet member wax poetic about radically altering the US education system, a move that would have massive consequences including but far from limited to the complete end of any coordinated oversight of for-profit colleges that operate in multiple states.
In closed-door sessions, groups of activists attended workshops centred around the right-wing’s campaign to choose candidates to support in local school board elections, barely-covered races that were largely apolitical in nature until conservatives began targeting the offices as opportunities to enforce their belief system.
Such races have become battlegrounds over issues including how America’s history of racism and slavery are approached in public school classrooms, and have even become relevant in the culture war resulting from resurgent backlash against LGBT Americans on the right.
Na Flórida, that backlash came to a head with the passage of the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which critics have said is stifling or outright preventing LGBT teachers from being honest about their personal lives in the workplace or displaying any LGBT pride imagery at all.
Ms DeVos was a highly controversial addition to Donald Trump’s Cabinet when she was nominated in 2017 but nevertheless remained part of the administration until the end, surviving through four years of an administration known for its high turnover rate.
The event in Florida over the weekend was also attended by Senator Rick Scott, a Republican from the state who serves as the leader of the GOP’s campaign efforts in the upper chamber.