Is DeVos a short-timer? Um, maybe not

Depending on what you read and who you believe, Betsy DeVos is either on her way out the door — or not.

One news report making the rounds on the Internet suggests that the controversial education secretary will soon leave the Cabinet. The headline, at “Officials expect DeVos to resign from Trump administration.”

Well, that says it all.

Or does it?

The Salon story, first reported on the left-leaning site Alternet, has its roots in a recent POLITICO profile of DeVos. In the profile, POLITICO’s Tim Alberta recounts DeVos’ “woefully uneven confirmation hearings,” and gets DeVos on the record blaming her performance on a lack of coaching from the White House. Alberta also paints DeVos as an ineffective member of the Trump Cabinet, running a federal agency with limited power.

But that doesn’t make the billionaire school choice advocate and prominent Michigan Republican a short-timer.

“Anyone betting against DeVos serving all four years of Trump’s first term — which, she tells me, she plans to do — is underestimating the sense of duty and moral righteousness deeply embedded in someone who could be doing just about anything else right now,” Alberta wrote.

But on the other hand, Alberta also got this quote from Thomas Toch, the head of Future Ed, a Georgetown University think tank.

“I’ll tell you, in Washington education circles, the conversation is already about the post-DeVos landscape, because the assumption is she won’t stay long,” Toch said. “And for my money, I don’t think it would be a bad thing if she left. I think she’s been probably one of the most ineffective people to ever hold the job.”

The Alternet/Salon story latched onto the Toch quote. But critics such as Chalkbeat’s Matt Barnum were quick to dismiss the story as flimsy. The story contained no quotes from multiple “officials” — and Toch isn’t even an official himself.

“A number of education journalists criticized the story as inaccurate on Twitter,” Barnum wrote. “These corrections, though, are unlikely to get the same viral traction that the original story has.”

Even Toch took to Twitter to respond.

“Was tallying DeVos odds in @politico, not suggesting her plane’s idling at National with a flight plan to Michigan,” Toch wrote this morning. “I give her a year.”

A ringing endorsement this isn’t.

But in today’s rapid read-and-react news cycle, a year can feel like a long time.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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