Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urged career employees at the Education Department on Tuesday to “be the resistance” when President-elect Joe Biden ushers in his new administration next month.
“Let me leave you with this plea: Resist,” DeVos said, according to a recording of remarks made at a department-wide virtual meting obtained by Politico. “Be the resistance against forces that will derail you from doing what’s right for students. In everything you do, please put students first — always.”
According to the publication, DeVos acknowledged that a majority of the agency’s career employees “will be here through the coming transition and beyond,” during the virtual meeting convened to discuss Biden’s transition.
The secretary touted her widely criticized overhaul of Title IX rules governing sexual assault and misconduct in schools and college as one of her top accomplishments, telling Education Department employees on Tuesday that her goal “in everything we accomplished was to do what’s right for students.”
“Four years later it’s still my focus and it’s still my hope for all of you,” Devos said in her call for resistance after years spent undermining the career employees of her department and blaming bureaucrats at the agency for making it difficult to get things done.
Political appointees at the Education Department sought to investigate and punish career employees who they suspected had leaked department information to the press which President Donald Trump has repeatedly demonized as “the enemy of the people.”
Trump administration officials have also criticized career employees in some government agencies for challenging Trump’s false narratives about the coronavirus pandemic when it came to the safe reopening of schools.
The department has not said whether DeVos has plans to stay in office until Jan. 20 when Biden is inaugurated. According to Politico, however, department officials said during the meeting that they have lined up career officials to take over temporarily in roles left vacant by political appointees in the coming weeks.