‘This notion that it was a mistake is an absolute falsehood,’ DeVos said of the White House response.
Former education secretary provides insight on school curriculums and weighs in on critical race theory in the classroom on ‘The Story’
The Biden administration’s U.S. Department of Education is “as far left as they come,” former Secretary Betsy DeVos said Thursday, after the cabinet department promoted a radical activist group’s handbook that advocates for educators to “disrupt Whiteness” and accuses the U.S. educational system of the “spirit murder” of “Black, Brown and Indigenous children.”
Within the Abolitionist Teaching Network’s “Guide for Racial Justice & Abolitionist Social and Emotional Learning” handbook, the group calls “Whiteness” a form of oppression, and its cornerstone program, called Activists in Residence, pays professional agitators $30,000 per year, working 20 hours per week, to lead “abolitionist educational organizing in their respective cities,” according to its website.
After the citation was brought up during a briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki claimed its inclusion was erroneous.
“We don’t endorse the recommendations of this group,” she said.
DeVos told “The Story” that Psaki wasn’t being forthright, adding that someone high-up in the Department of Education, led by former Connecticut State Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona, had to sign off on the citation to the group.
“This notion that it was a mistake is an absolute falsehood,” said DeVos, who served under President Trump. “Having been there at the department for four years and working through the approval processes for anything that is put out from the department, I know full well that there were eyes on and full knowledge of this going on.”
“We saw earlier this year, the grant process the department put out that basically was trying to bribe schools into using the 1619 Project in their materials,” she added. “So this is just another reflection of the true nature of the Biden Department of Education.”
DeVos’ claim was echoed by one House lawmaker who agreed the White House appears supportive of left-wing curricula.
“There surely must be leaders in the Biden administration who support critical race theory, and they want to use the schools to indoctrinate our children, and that is very concerning,” Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., a former schoolteacher, told Fox News earlier Thursday.
DeVos said invoking a radical left-wing group should also serve as a warning against the Senate’s proposed confirmation of former Obama official Catherine Lhamon as Assistant Education Secretary in the Office of Civil Rights.
Host Martha MacCallum recounted how Lhamon’s last stint in that office was hallmarked by a “Dear Colleague” letter that asked colleges and universities to lower the evidentiary standards in investigations of sexual misconduct.
The slackening of those standards reportedly led defendants in such cases to be stripped of otherwise basic protections, with National Review noting that Obama-era guidelines allowed plaintiffs to appeal “not-guilty” verdicts. Lhamon, the magazine reported, threatened to cut funding to schools that defied her new definitions and orders.
MacCallum went on to note that student defendants were often not afforded legal counsel and that an untold number of lives were turned upside down by the directives.
DeVos agreed, adding that Lhamon’s nomination as well as the allegedly incidental promotion of the Abolitionist Teaching Network in Education Department literature is “part of the continuum that the Biden administration is promoting through left-wing policies.”
DeVos further warned that teachers unions like the American Federation of Teachers are “wrapped up” in the radical ideologies being “promulgated” by Cardona and Biden in this way.
AFT President Randi Weingarten has claimed critical race theory – an ideology critics consider to be overtly Marxist – is not being taught in grade school but instead just collegiate and post-graduate institutions:
“It’s a method of examination … that helps analyze whether systemic racism exists,” she said in a recent virtual address.
However, the Rockland County, N.Y., native went on to claim in those comments made earlier this month that “mostly Republican” lawmakers are “bullying teachers and trying to stop us from teaching kids honest history.”
Fox News’ Michael Ruiz and Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.