The Department of Education is defending comments made by Secretary Betsy DeVos in which she told career staff members at the agency to "resist" any policies in future administrations that do not "put students first."
DeVos's comments, delivered as a parting message during an internal meeting on December 15, were picked up by mainstream media outlets such as Politico and USA Today that claimed DeVos instructed staffers to "be the resistance" in the Biden administration. But a transcript of the speech provided by the Department of Education shows she was talking about policies, not politicians, a distinction it says the coverage obscured.
"I challenge you to keep your focus on students," the speech transcript reads. "Many of you know well that most everything in this town, when it comes to education, is focused on schools—not students. So, let me leave you with this last plea: resist. Be the resistance against a familiar force that will distract you from doing what's right for students."
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Angela Morabito, a spokeswoman for the Education Department, told the Washington Free Beacon that characterizing her message as an attack on the Biden administration was an incorrect reading, unless the media assume the next administration won't make students the top priority.
"The Secretary urged the staff to always put students first, and resist anything that distracts from that mission," Morabito said. "Too many in Washington for too long have put the needs of adults and the education ‘system' first. Secretary DeVos worked tirelessly for four years to reorient the conversation around students, especially disadvantaged students, and she urged everyone to keep students at the center of every decision."
Biden has not announced whom he will tap to lead the agency.