Trump education secretary says 'Department of Education should not exist'

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(The Hill) — Former Secretary of Education Betsy Devos believes that the department she once led should be abolished. 

Devos, who spent four years as the education secretary during the Trump administration, made the remarks at the inaugural “Moms For Liberty” summit on Saturday, according to the Florida Phoenix. 

“I personally think the Department of Education should not exist,” Devos told the mostly conservative crowd in Tampa, Fla.

Devos was a leading proponent of “education freedom” during her time in office, promoting vouchers to allow families to choose their children’s schools.

In a speech in 2020, she said, “I fight against anyone who would have government be the parent to everyone.”

“Moms For Liberty” is a conservative group that rose to national prominence for its objection to children wearing facemasks at school during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The local news outlet also reported that summit attendees were given tips on how to recruit, promote, and endorse conservative school board candidates.

Devos is not the first conservative figure to suggest nixing the federal agency charged with overseeing schools. A group of GOP House members backed a bill last year seeking to abolish the Department of Education. 

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) introduced the bill in February 2021, with co-sponsors including Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.). 

“Schools should be accountable,” Massie said in a statement at the time. “Parents have the right to choose the most appropriate educational opportunity for their children, including home school, public school, or private school.”

Devos’s remarks come as schools have become a central battleground for politicized culture wars, with Democrats and Republicans battling over issues such as critical race theory, LGBTQ rights, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) campaigned on a pledge to give parents a louder voice in schools, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis drew national blowback with his signing of a bill barring teachers from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

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