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DeVos Steers Education Department Without a Crew
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DeVos Steers Education Department Without a Crew

The Unqualified Secretary Has Left 24 Top-Level Posts Unfilled; Six Obama Holdovers Are Running the Place

The Department of Education is operating without a full crew. With practically no crew at all.

The only person confirmed by the Senate in the department is Secretary Betsy DeVos who had to have Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote because of opposition over her lack of qualifications for the job.

All 14 remaining positions in the Department of Education that also need Senate confirmation remain vacant. Only six of the top 30 jobs listed on the Education Department’s web site are filled. All are holdovers from former President Barack Obama.

“They’re all scratching their heads wondering what the department’s going to do on all kinds of issues,” a lobbyist told Inside Higher Ed about the uncertainty caused by all the vacancies.

Trump has been slow to fill jobs throughout his administration. Only 22 of 554 key jobs that require Senate confirmation have been filled, according to the Partnership for Public Service. Trump aide Steve Bannon has said Trump’s Cabinet of billionaires “were selected for a reason, and that is deconstruction.”

Carlos G. Muñiz, an attorney who supported Florida not taking action against Trump University, is the DeVos choice for the top attorney in her department.

DeVos did announce hiring nine aides who won’t need Senate confirmation. The one that got the most attention was Candice Jackson, now the acting head of the Office for Civil Rights, who once complained she was discriminated against because she is white.

DeVos, a billionaire, comes from a family that financially supported the Family Research Council, a nonprofit that bills itself as a Christian public policy ministry. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, says the council’s real specialty is “defaming gays and lesbians.”

Among DeVos’s first acts as the top official guiding our children’s education was to go along with barring transgender children struggling with their sexual identity from using the bathroom of their choice.

One of the jobs listed as unfilled is the executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Trump has moved that initiative into the White House.


ACTION BOX / What you can do about it

Call Betsy DeVos at 202-401-3000 or write her at U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave., SW, Washington, D.C. 20202.

April 18, 2017