Donald Trump’s secretary of education is so toxic that she cannot even show her face abroad.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, a billionaire Republican megadonor whose only qualification was lobbying for failed school privatization schemes in Michigan, has rapidly become the most hated member of Donald Trump’s Cabinet.
And her infamy is not limited to the United States. Her unpopularity is such that she cannot even visit schools in other countries without facing protests.
This week, DeVos was scheduled to tour public schools in Toronto, sparking outrage and protests from Canadian teacher groups.
Chris Cowley, president of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, furiously condemned the visit. “DeVos represents everything a public education advocate opposes," Crowley said. "She should keep her backwards ideas out of Ontario.”
The controversy that surrounds DeVos wherever she goes is no accident. So far, everything she has done in office has been a disaster.
She suspended debt relief to victims of for-profit college scams after deriding those victims for “being entitled to so-called free money.” She also rolled back protections for women on college campuses, appointing a rape apologist to head the civil rights division and directing schools to let rapists directly interrogate their victims.
In the wake of these decisions, DeVos is so poisonous that she is even booed while giving talks in deeply conservative areas, like Natrona County, Wyoming — where Trump won the vote by 72 percent. So it is no surprise that a highly progressive city like Toronto would be unhappy about her coming to visit.
DeVos cannot solve this problem by simply avoiding anyone who disagrees with her. She must be willing to accept accountability for the way she runs her department. If she cannot do this, then she has no business in public office.