Former education secretary Betsy DeVos told a Conservative education summit on Saturday that she believes the Department of Education should be abolished, according to the Florida Phoenix.
Driving the news: DeVos’ rejection of the department she once headed was welcomed at the Moms for Liberty summit, which provided training on how to develop conservative majorities on local school boards, the Phoenix reported.
- “I personally think the Department of Education shouldn’t exist,” DeVos told the crowd in Tampa, Fla., according to the Phoenix.
The big picture: The summit is part of the so-called parental rights movement, which sprung up in response to efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 in schools, particularly mask and vaccination mandates.
- Florida has been ground zero for many of the efforts to increase parental involvement and reduce teacher autonomy over classroom decisions.
- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also issued an executive order in August 2021 banning mask mandates in schools.
- The state’s so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which took effect July 1, bans teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity for children in kindergarten through third grade. year. It also allows parents to sue schools and teachers who discuss these topics.
- The state Board of Education banned schools from teaching critical race theory — a legal theory about how racial discrimination has influenced American foundations — last June. Critical race theory is not taught in public schools. The ban led to the rejection of dozens of math textbooks that “contained banned topics”.
Background: DeVos isn’t the only Republican to suggest scrapping the Department of Education.
- Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) introduced a bill in 2021 to abolish the department, saying that “unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., should not be in charge of the intellectual and moral development of our children.”
- The bill’s co-signers included many of the more conservative members of the House, such as Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).