Federal News in Brief

DeVos Espouses Civics, Civility

By Alyson Klein — September 25, 2018 1 min read


And she criticized colleges and universities for putting what she described as severe limitations on students’ freedom of speech and expression, citing conservative students who say their views were sidelined by more-liberal college administrations.

During her speech last week, DeVos said that schools need to teach students to engage with others with whom they might disagree. And she said that needs to begin at the K-12 level, where she noted that civics education hasn’t been a priority.

“But I think it’s really important that students learn about the history of this nation that they are here to actually protect and enhance from this day forward,” DeVos said at the National Constitution Center, a nonpartisan interactive museum.

Her comments echo those of more than half the principals surveyed earlier this year by the Education Week Research Center. Fifty-two percent said their schools devote “too little” time to civics instruction, while 48 percent say they give about the right amount.

At the postsecondary level, DeVos said, colleges aren’t allowing students to hear perspectives that administrators may disagree with.

“Administrators too often attempt to shield students from ideas they subjectively decide are ‘hateful’ or ‘offensive’ or ‘injurious,’ or ones they just don’t like,” she said. “This patronizing practice assumes students are incapable of grappling with, learning from, or responding to ideas with which they disagree.”

The secretary also said social media makes it easy to lower the level of discourse. “It’s easy to be nasty hiding behind screens and Twitter handles,"she said.

During a question-and-answer session, a high schooler asked DeVos whether “the idea of hiding behind screens and hiding behind social media, don’t you feel that example should be brought to our current government?”

In response, DeVos reiterated her previous point. “We’re best off when we’re able to sit down and talk about things that we may agree on or disagree on and talk about them face to face or in a small group setting.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the September 26, 2018 edition of Education Week as DeVos Espouses Civics, Civility


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

Federal Biden Picks San Diego Superintendent for Deputy Education Secretary
San Diego Superintendent Cindy Marten was a classroom teacher for 17 years before she became a school and district administrator.
2 min read
Image of the White House seal
Bet Noire/Getty
Federal Biden Calls for $130 Billion in New K-12 Relief, Scaled Up Testing, Vaccination Efforts
President-elect Joe Biden proposed new aid for schools as part of a broader COVID-19 relief plan, which will require congressional approval.
5 min read
First-grade teacher Megan Garner-Jones, left, and Principal Cynthia Eisner silent clap for their students participating remotely and in-person at School 16, in Yonkers, N.Y., on Oct. 20, 2020.
First-grade teacher Megan Garner-Jones, left, and Principal Cynthia Eisner silent clap for their students participating remotely and in-person at School 16, in Yonkers, N.Y.
Mary Altaffer/AP
Federal Who Is Miguel Cardona? Education Secretary Pick Has Roots in Classroom, Principal's Office
Many who've worked with Joe Biden's pick for education secretary say he's ready for what would be a giant step up.
15 min read
Miguel Cardona, first-time teacher, in his fourth-grade classroom at Israel Putnam School in Meriden, Ct. in August of 1998.
Miguel Cardona, chosen to lead the U.S. Department of Education, photographed in his 4th-grade classroom at Israel Putnam School in Meriden, Conn., in 1998.
Courtesy of the Record-Journal
Federal Obama Education Staff Involved in Race to the Top, Civil Rights Join Biden's White House
Both Catherine Lhamon and Carmel Martin will serve on President-elect Joe Biden's Domestic Policy Council.
4 min read