Betsy DeVos calls for the abolition of the federal Department of Education she once headed

Former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, appointed by former President Donald Trump, told conservative activists in Tampa on Saturday that the federal Department of Education should be abolished, leaving education decisions to state and local councils.

“I personally think the Department of Education shouldn’t exist,” said DeVos, author of a recent book titled “Hostages No More” and keynote speaker at the “Moms For Liberty” summit. Audience members jumped to their feet, cheering and clapping.

DeVos is one of prominent Republicans featured at the three-day summit in Tampa, which trained members from 30 states on how to create conservative majorities in their local school boards, in what they call a movement parental rights. Moms For Liberty was founded in Florida, in part because of parents’ objections to their children being required to wear face masks to school during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a series of breakout sessions not open to the press, guest speakers explained to participants how to recruit, vet, approve and promote conservatives as candidates for the school board. Other sessions focused on legal defense of parental rights over school board authority, strategic research and ways to combat “gender ideology, in our schools”, “social and emotional learning” and “restorative justice”.

Moms For Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice, who interviewed DeVos, said, “We love the teachers here at Moms For Liberty,” but she called the teachers’ unions a “K-12 cartel.” She said Moms For Liberty seeks to separate teachers from unions, which she says impose liberal politics in classrooms.

DeVos promoted school choice, school vouchers and other “educational freedom” in the Trump administration.

School shootings

Also on Saturday, Moms For Liberty hosted a panel discussion on school safety, following the shootings in Uvalde, Texas, in May and Parkland, Florida, in 2018. Group co-founders Bridget Ziegler, Tina Descovich and Tiffany Justice, all current or former members of the Florida School Board, were joined by US Senator and former Florida Governor Rick Scott and Ryan Petty, whose daughter Alaina was killed in the attack on Parkland and who now sits on the Florida State Board of Education.

US Senator Rick Scott of Florida voted against bipartisan gun safety legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden. Credit: Laura Cassels

The conservative panel has generally encouraged the arming of school staff and opposed any gun control measures beyond red flag warnings and other reforms passed in Florida in 2018 after the shooting massacre at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where 17 students and staff were shot. down.

Petty called for better relationships between school districts and local law enforcement and better communication between law enforcement, as recommended by the statewide commission that investigated about the Parkland Massacre.

Scott voted against bipartisan federal gun safety legislation that was signed into law this month in June by President Joe Biden. The Moms For Liberty audience applauded her vote.

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