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Nationwide battles between parents and school districts over issues such as race, gender identity and sexual orientation are proof that “the system has gone too far in usurping family responsibility,” a former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told Fox News.
“The last two years have really revealed the system’s tendency to continue to insist that the experts know best and that parents should just let the experts deal with these issues,” DeVos said.
“Parents say ‘No, that’s enough. These are our children. We are worried about their future,'” she continued.
Since the start of the pandemic, parents across the country have clashed with local school boards, wondering if issues involving critical race theory and gender identity should be taught from an early age. Other hot topics include mask mandates and whether trans athletes should be allowed to compete in women’s sports.
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Remote learning has helped focus parents’ attention on classroom curriculum and lessons, leading them to realize how little control they have over their children’s education, DeVos said. Controversies like Florida’s parental rights in education legislation – which critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill – highlight a growing belief that school systems fit where they don’t. don’t belong and teach young children sensitive topics that have usually been left to families to discuss, she added.
“When parents are told at school board meetings to just go sit down and shut up, we know the system has gone too far in usurping family responsibility,” DeVos told Fox News.
“The Federal Ministry of Education has, in too many cases, overstepped its bounds,” she added. DeVos said she would have been “very happy to be working without a job myself” while serving as secretary by downsizing her department.
“I think the functions of the department, the necessary legal functions, could be done elsewhere,” she said. “Education is best served when it is at the most local level.”
States, not the federal government, should set education policy, DeVos said.
The actions of the Department of Education “seem to be a nod to … those who control the system,” she told Fox News, suggesting that teachers’ unions are in the driver’s seat.
Shortly after the department was established in 1867, it was downsized over fears it would “exercise too much control over local schools”, according to its website. But in 1979, it was expanded following a campaign promise from then-president Jimmy Carter.
“He wanted to get the teachers’ union endorsement,” DeVos told Fox News. “The teachers’ union had never supported a presidential candidate before. As a reward for the teachers’ union, that’s when the department was created.”
“It was established apparently to bridge the achievement gap between those with the highest level of performance and those with the lowest level of performance,” she continued.
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“Since that time, we’ve spent more than $1 trillion at the federal level alone, specifically to close that achievement gap,” the former secretary said. “All the data shows that not only has it not shrunk a bit, but in many cases it has actually widened.”
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DeVos also said there are many “really good teachers” who “don’t necessarily buy into the systems approach,” but they, and their students, “have been held hostage. It’s time to put them on hold.” liberate and give all families and teachers an educational freedom.”
The Department of Education did not immediately return a request for comment.