- Following a rough confirmation process, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has the lowest approval rating of six Trump administration officials — the others including Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon, Senior Adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
- According to Education Week, an online survey of 1,073 adults conducted by Saint Leo University's Polling Institute found 52.3% either somewhat or strongly disapproved of DeVos.
- Saint Leo University Polling Institute Director Frank Orlando chalked up DeVos' unpopularity in the poll to her visibility as a result of a one-vote margin in her confirmation hearing and major anti-DeVos campaigns by teacher unions.
DeVos' nomination saw Congressional phone lines flooded with a record number of calls from constituents due to controversy over her lack of experience working in public schools, opposition to regulations for charter schools and support for voucher programs, as well as her family's donations to GOP lawmakers. The confirmation hearings themselves didn't make things much better for her, due to an apparent lack of understanding of student protections under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. She was also lampooned in the late-night comedy circuit for using grizzly bears as a defense for allowing guns in schools.
As Education Week points out, however, there have been nominees in this administration less popular, as initial Trump labor secretary pick Andrew Puzder dropped out of consideration due to faltering Republican senatorial support.
Still, DeVos is likely to only find herself more visible in the coming months as implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act ramps up — especially with public interest in education issues having seemingly grown over the past several years. If anything is certain, the influence of her U.S. Department of Education at large will be diminished under the law as is. And given Senate Education Committee chairman Lamar Alexander's (R-TN) remarks Wednesday that the department's role is to serve as a "cheerleader" and not an enforcer of accountability, that's unlikely to change.