My job as Betsy DeVos’s assistant secretary for policy often came down to translating her reform vision into concrete legislative proposals, budgets, and grant competitions. It was a stimulating, enjoyable job—despite the constant tumult created by the unconventional president. There was also some unpleasantness because of the conventional labor unions that represent teachers in collective bargaining and elections, as well as their Democratic allies in Congress. That was just an expected part of the job.
I had known and admired Betsy DeVos for a couple of decades before our time together in D.C., so none of her positions surprised or disappointed me. That’s a risky thing to say, given how partisans on both sides have distorted her views, but it is an important point given what did surprise and disappoint me. Even after developing a pretty good understanding of the factions within education reform over 25 years, I was astounded by the intensity with which so many reformers opposed Betsy DeVos.