‘Good Riddance’ — Nationwide teacher unions say farewell to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in March 2019, testifying at a subcommitee in the U.S. Senate. Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images.

U.S. Secretary of Education for the Trump administration Betsy DeVos has submitted her resignation letter following the riot by extremist Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol building, roughly two weeks before the end of Donald Trump’s term.

Two nationwide teacher unions are happy to see DeVos out the door. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, responded to the news of her resignation in only two words:

“Good riddance,” Weingarten said in a written statement.

DeVos has been widely criticized by teacher unions and educators across the nation for encouraging significant cuts to education budgets and her overall lack of experience in the field. More recent criticisms followed DeVos’s push to reopen U.S. schools during the COVID-19 pandemic without a clear plan to help educators work during a pandemic.

DeVos was pushing for schools to reopen as recently as Monday, announcing more than $54 billion in aid for that purpose.

But DeVos cited the riot at the Capitol as an “inflection point” for her. In her resignation letter to Trump, she notes that “there is no mistaking the impact of your rhetoric had on the situation.”

“Impressionable children are watching all of this, and they are learning from us,” she wrote. “They must know from us that America is greater than what transpired [Wednesday].”

Her resignation took effect on Friday. A range of Cabinet members and top aides have stepped down since the riot, including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s former chief of staff and special envoy to Northern Ireland.

The National Education Association, another teacher union, seems unimpressed with the resignation.

“Resigning 13 days before the end of this administration does nothing to erase the harm Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has done to this country’s students, their families, and educators,” said NEA President Becky Pringle in a press release Thursday. “She has failed our students yet again when they needed her most. Her complicity, cowardice, and complete incompetence will be her legacy.”

DeVos’s resignation came amid serious talks of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office for the remaining days of his presidency before President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated.

Invoking the amendment would require agreement from a majority of Trump’s Cabinet, but DeVos’s resignation removed her from that process.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, former candidate for the Democratic nomination for president and a former educator, offered her own “good riddance” to DeVos in a Tweet Thursday, calling her “the worst Secretary of Education ever.”

The tweet reads: “Betsy DeVos has never done her job to help America’s students. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that she’d rather quit than do her job to help invoke the 25th Amendment.”

In December, Biden announced that he would nominate Miguel A. Cardona as the next education secretary. Cardona is now the commissioner of education in Connecticut and has worked as an elementary teacher, a principal, and in other administrative jobs.

A significant critique of DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education is her lack of experience, and Biden had promised that the next secretary of education would be an educator.

NEA President Becky Pringle looks forward to the new administration.

“The 3 million members of the National Education Association are looking ahead to working with the Biden-Harris administration and Education Secretary-designate Miguel Cardona to make sure that we undo the damage done by the Trump administration,” Pringle said in the Thursday press release.