Above: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos arrives to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Md.—Susan Walsh/AP
Democrats could make big gains in the midterm elections next week, including possibly taking back the U.S. House of Representatives.
If that happens, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who donated millions mostly to Republican candidates and causes before joining the cabinet, may have some new people to get to know. That’s because the overwhelming majority of DeVos’ interactions in her first year and a half in office have been with GOP policymakers.
DeVos met with or spoke to Republican members of Congress, governors, lieutenant governors, and state chiefs about six times more frequently than with Democrats between her first week in office and the end of July 2018. That’s according to an Education Week analysis of her calendar posted on the Freedom of Information Act portion of the department’s website.
This trend was even more pronounced for members of Congress. DeVos has made meeting with lawmakers a priority, according to her public schedule. But she’s had roughly ten times as many meetings with Republicans—130 meetings (on the phone or in person) with GOP lawmakers or their top aides—as she’s had with Democrats, whom she’s met with a dozen times.
So what do DeVos and Democratic leaders have to say?
“The secretary is willing to work with any member of Congress who wants to rethink education and do better for America’s students,” said DeVos’ spokeswoman, Liz Hill. “The secretary’s door remains open to anyone who wants to get work done and break down the barriers that are holding back needed progress.”
But Eli Zupnick, a spokesman for Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, the top Democrat on the Senate education committee, said the senator “was hopeful that Secretary DeVos would listen to parents and teachers across the country, set aside her rigid anti-public education ideology, and actually work with Democrats for the good of students and schools. We haven’t seen that yet, but Senator Murray has proven that she is always ready to work with anyone, from any party, who is actually willing to work with her to deliver results for students and schools.”
Can’t get enough of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos? Check out some of our best coverage:
- Here’s Our Q&A with Secretary DeVos
- Read an Education Week Commentary by DeVos on Special Education Students
- Betsy DeVos’ Use of the Bully Pulpit Brings Opportunities, and Challenges
- Among Educators, Donald Trump Is More Popular Than Betsy DeVos
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