Outgoing Trump administration suddenly embraces deep state 'resistance'

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Betsy DeVos urged Education Department staff to resist Biden administration policies.

Outgoing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday urged career staffers in her department not to comply with policies that might be passed by the administration of President-elect Joe Biden.

According to Politico, DeVos begged staffers to continue her assault on public education even after the next administration takes office. "Let me leave you with this plea: Resist," she told the department staff members. "Be the resistance against forces that will derail you from doing what's right for students. In everything you do, please put students first — always."

DeVos hardly put students first during her time as education secretary. She has spent four years attacking public schools and teachers, pushing to divert taxpayer dollars to private and religious education, and rolling back protections for LGBTQ students, immigrants, sexual assault victims, and people with student loan debt.

It is unlikely that career staff at the Department of Education will refuse to do their jobs on DeVos' account. She has overruled them in implementing right-wing policies, making her deeply unpopular with the people who serve under her.

Staff morale at the department has declined precipitously during DeVos' tenure in office, with job satisfaction levels last year declining to their lowest point since 2003, and the lowest scores among all federal agencies of its size.

In December 2019, a DeVos spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that DeVos "has made significant changes to the way the department operates, which can be particularly challenging for those accustomed to the status quo."

DeVos' suggestion that workers should defy the wishes of the president and his team bears a resemblance to the supposed "deep state" conspiracies Donald Trump has ranted about for four years, people within the government who are supposedly working against him. He also has repeatedly complained about a "resistance" that opposed his policies from inside and outside of the administration.

On Tuesday night, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the nation's largest teachers unions, slammed DeVos for her record and her comments to Department of Education staff.

"Because of DeVos's 'resistance,' thousands of public schools have no resources to #ReopenSafely," Weingarten tweeted. "Because of her 'resistance,' thousands of student loan borrowers have fewer avenues for justice and repayment."