One Year In: Reflections on the DeVos Education Agenda

Has it really been a whole year since VP Mike Pence cast his tie-breaking vote, making Betsy DeVos Secretary of Education? Congrats! You survived – and DeVos remains Trump’s least popular cabinet official. In this episode of Have You Heard, Jennifer and Jack reflect on DeVos’ first year, a task they prepared for by watching, reading, and listening to WAY too many DeVos speeches. (Note: don’t try this at home, or in close proximity to sharp objects). Their top takeaway: after 365 days, DeVos remains misunderstood and misunderestimated. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you will experience the 46 longest seconds of your life – and still have many minutes to go in the episode!


  1. I have followed your blog and podcast for a long time. I am a public school educator with a passion for education and a keen interest in policy. While I knew going in that you were DeVos bashing, I ended up not appreciating the bent you took. For example: the list of questions you read, Why are schools closed for the summer, why do kids go to brick and motar schools, why are schools age group? etc, are not fact questions but those are thought questions that I think we have to continually ask ourselves and it’s not an affront to be asked to consider them. Example, your response to why we close for the summer is because teachers need a break and kids would complain doesn’t stand the test. What if the option were given? Teachers would actually begin to make more money by working a full year instead of 10 months. They might like that! But since schools are financed on local real estate taxes, most districts can’t get that kind of funding and don’t want to face taxpayers who might revolt at increasing their taxes to cover the wages. Or maybe it’s parents who want to vacation with their families when the weather is advantageous, like in summer. Yet we have plenty of successful year-round schools -public ones- that are dedicated to model not because its a solution to over-crowding which is when some districts have had to go year-round, but because the year-round school fits the community. So DeVos’ questions were nearly so crazy as they actually lead to solutions that public schools provide – not that she knew it because she was just bashing us, too.

    1. Hi Sandy – nice to meet you and thanks for reading/listening all these years 🙂 I think Jack’s point was not that the questions themselves are uninteresting, or that the answers to them are obvious, but that DeVos herself is completely uninterested in the history of how things evolved. I didn’t see the episode as being about DeVos bashing but a continuation of what I’ve been doing for the past year +: arguing that we need to take DeVos seriously. I think you raise a lot of interesting issues though. Maybe it would be worth doing a whole episode on this question. Thanks for the inspiration!

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