Day One for Betsy DeVos at the U.S. Department of Education

Betsy DeVos was sworn in as Secretary of Education by Vice President Mike Pence.
Betsy DeVos was sworn in as Secretary of Education by Vice President Mike Pence.

Betsy DeVos after winning confirmation as Secretary of Education by a historic 51 to 50 vote in the Senate was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence, who cast the tie-breaking vote, on Tuesday night.

Today is day one for DeVos as Secretary of Education. She toured U.S. Department of Education buildings in Washington, DC, met with senior leadership and addressed the department staff.

After being introduced by Philip Rosenfelt, the former acting Secretary of Education and current acting general counsel for the Department, DeVos spoke to staff a little under eleven minutes. She didn’t touch on policy. She told the staff she “listens more than she speaks.” She also promised a open door policy at the Department. She also addressed the confirmation process.

So, let’s turn to recent headlines. There’s no need to pull punches. For me personally, this confirmation process and the drama it engendered has been a…bit of a bear.

In all, seriousness, for many, the events of the last few weeks have likely raised more questions and spawned more confusion than they have brought light and clarity. So, for starters, please know, I’m a “door open” type of person who listens more than speaks.

I am here to serve—with you. I am committed to working with everyone and anyone —from every corner of the country, from every walk of life, from every background, and with those who supported my nomination and those who did not—to protect, strengthen and create new world-class education opportunities for America’s students.

Let’s acknowledge: We’ve just come through one of the most bruising, divisive elections in modern times. And that’s okay. Our republic is resilient. We as a people are resilient.

Often, the morning and evening news cycles make it hard to imagine what might unite our nation. The rhetoric and the words can get hot and heated, and the animosity often seems unending. And that’s okay, too. People are passionate and moved by deeply held views. We are a pluralistic culture and we must celebrate our differences.

But all of us here can help bring unity by personally committing to being more open to, and patient toward, views different than our own.

She called on those with differing opinions to find common ground and left her staff with a challenge.

The obstacles between our nation’s students and their pursuit of excellence can all be overcome. They’re human problems. All too often adult issues can complicate and get in the way of a focus upon those we serve. The good news is: We can all work together to find solutions and make them happen.

I’m reminded of the ancient counsel to act justly, to love kindness and to proceed humbly. No matter your outlook, I’m betting we can all agree that acting justly, being compassionate and moving forward humbly on behalf of the future of our nation – America’s students – is a good place to start.

So I ask every educator, every parent, everyone involved in educating our nation’s students, and all of us here: Let us set aside any preconceived notions and let’s recognize that while we may have disagreements, we can –and must—come together, find common ground and put the needs of our students first. And when we do disagree, let us set an example by being sincere and honest, passionate but civil, while never losing sight of our shared mission.

To everyone on this team, my challenge to you is simple: Be bold, think big, and act to serve students.

And I will promise you this: Together, we will find new ways in which we can positively transform education.


2 thoughts on “Day One for Betsy DeVos at the U.S. Department of Education

  1. Sorry but her past speaks volumes about what the future holds. Charters, Vouchers and choice is a decades old scheme to destroy and privatize traditional public education and DeVos has been one of the leaders in this scheme for a long time. All her warm and fuzzy words do no erase the truth about her and her affiliations. She was the wrong choice for this job. And Donald Trump will take a big hit with this one. Sure they will get rid of Common Core but Common Core is just a name. All they will do is change the name but national standards (which is the real issue) will remain. One size fits all dumbed down standards so we can lower the high achievers to the level of the low achievers instead of truly lifting the low achievers up. Raising them up is a much harder job with no guarantees. Lowering he high achievers is easy to do and they can sit back and claim credit for fixing the problem when all they did was further dumb down the system so even a cat can go to college. And they will laugh at us all the way to the bank. She was put in this job to protect ESSA when in fact she should be repealing ESSA and shutting down the department. Two things that must happen but two things she will never do.

  2. Transform education? Is that the same kind of transformation Obama spoke of back in 2008? Yes I do believe it is. Transform in progressive talk means destroy.

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