How to Stop Betsy DeVos
Right on cue, a visit Friday to a Washington, D.C., public school by new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was met by protesters blocking her entrance and shouting, “Shame, shame!” At the least, it maintains the current standard of tolerance and civility for the new progressive Democratic Party.
Perhaps catching the new shut-it-down spirit these days, Rep. Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican, this week introduced a bill to eliminate the Education Department. His bill has one sentence: “The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.” Well, that would be one way to stop Betsy DeVos.
Members of Congress introduce sweeping bills like this all the time, and they are often statements of policy preferences that seldom end up as law. For all we know, Mr. Massie’s bill is meant as a wry comment on the past two weeks of mass mobilization against Mrs. DeVos’s nomination. The increasingly ineloquent Sen. Elizabeth Warren, for example, said Republicans would “ram this nomination down the throats” of Americans, “no matter her inexperience, no matter her radical views.”
In truth, the GOP has aspired at times to dismantle the department, created by Jimmy Carter, since Ronald Reagan ran for president on the idea in 1980. In the years since, this most quintessentially local function has been pulled ever further under the control of Education Department bureaucracy and its satellite support groups, with the teachers unions always first in the protection line.
For now, the Education Department lives, and Betsy DeVos will lead it. People, like the street-based progressives, who believe the department’s primary purpose is to keep paychecks flowing to the teachers unions, will remain inconsolable. Our view would be to put Rep. Massie’s close-down bill on hold for at least four years, while the rest of us give Mrs. DeVos a chance at making good on reforms that put the students at the front of the line.