U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

In a speech to staff, DeVos tells career employees—who she has frequently clashed with—to “be the resistance” against the incoming Democratic administration.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urged employees at the Department of Education to “be the resistance” against President-elect Joe Biden and his administration, according to a recording of her comments. 

DeVos made her remarks during a department-wide virtual meeting to discuss the upcoming change in administration. The recording of the meeting was obtained by POLITICO

She acknowledged that thousands of agency employees will continue to work for the Department of Education “through the coming transition and beyond,” and she encouraged employees to continue their work. 

“Let me leave you with this plea: Resist,” she said. “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.” 

But during her time in office, DeVos has been mainly focused on eroding funding for public schools in favor of private schools. She has also implemented rules that make it more difficult for assault survivors on college campuses, slowed investigations into allegedly fraudulent student loans, and threatened to cut funding to schools that did not fully reopen in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. 

DeVos has also repeatedly sparred with career employees of the department. She blamed longtime staff for making it difficult to get things done and tangled with the department’s union over issues like teleworking rules. 

Other Trump appointees within the department also allegedly worked to investigate career employees who they suspected of leaking information to the public. 

In the coming transition, career officials will take over for political appointees until Biden administration officials begin their roles. Department of Education Deputy General Counsel Phil Rosenfelt will serve as acting secretary of Education during the transition period. 

Rosenfelt is a longtime department employee and has served in the acting capacity before. During the transition from the Obama administration to the Trump administration in 2017, Rosenfelt took the reins at the department. 

But it is unclear whether DeVos will stay in her position up until the final days of the Trump administration, according to POLITICO.