Congress rebuffs DeVos’ school agenda

Washington — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos came here from the Grand Rapids area to reform education and expand alternatives to traditional public schools, but her agenda has been rebuffed by a Republican-led Congress and stymied by the polarized climate surrounding her tenure.

Education experts say her Department of Education has few policy wins to tout after more than a year, and a series of stumbles in high-profile forums — from her confirmation hearing to a mid-March CBS “60 Minutes” interview — hurt her ability to effectively harness the bully pulpit.

“She has learned quite a bit on the job,” said Mike Petrilli, president of the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a policy group in Washington that supports school choice.

“This is a whole new kind of role for Betsy DeVos. She was used to being somebody who was a strategist in the background, and wasn’t someone who was out front giving a lot of speeches. She wasn’t very good at it at first and, on the whole, she’s gotten better at it. Though I think the ‘60 Minutes’ interview indicates she still has some growing to do.”

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