Wounded Betsy DeVos Plays the Victim as Critics Denounce Her Failure to Protect Students' Rights

Teachers' unions just gave DeVos an 'F' for her first year.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/ Wikimedia Commons

Education secretary and school choice proponent Betsy DeVos continues to incite anger among those on the left with her ignorant and misguided public statements about education policy and philosophy. During a January 7 meeting with reporters to talk about her first year as secretary, DeVos expressed confusion with the criticism she’s received for her treatment of students’ civil rights, saying that “nothing could be further from the truth.”

DeVos said she found it “hurtful to me when I’m criticized for not upholding the rights of students, the civil rights of students,” as Politico reported. She defended herself, saying, “I have to turn it back around and say why do I keep getting criticized for that? I mean nothing that I’ve done would suggest otherwise.”

Three civil rights organizations are suing DeVos over her roll-back of the Obama administration's sexual assault guidelines in higher education. 

Upon hearing the Department’s changes to sexual assault policy, Rep. Nita Lowey said “The effect of this policy reversal will be to delegitimize and suppress the voices of survivors, who are being told by this administration that they will be met with skepticism,” according to The Hill.

In September Democrats released a memo titled, “Back to School: The Many Ways Secretary DeVos Has Hurt Students, Teachers and Parents.”

DeVos also changed guidelines around transgender bathroom rights. A letter with more than 700 names of parents of transgender youth was sent to DeVos February 7 as part of an effort organized by the Human Rights Campaign. The letter called on DeVos to “recognize the basic human and civil rights of transgender students throughout our nation’s schools.”

On January 9, groups including the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association set out to share their assessments of DeVos in the form of “report cards,” but the Department of Education refused to allow them entry:

About 90 percent of the 80,000-plus messages assigned DeVos a grade of "F."

Devos added fuel to the fire when she tried to alter policy around investigating civil rights violations in schools back in November.

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Emily C. Bell is a news writer at AlterNet.