Betsy DeVos

CPAC: Betsy DeVos Thinks First Amendment Rights of College Students Are Under Attack

Touts school choice at CPAC talk.


Olivier Douliery

Speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos promised to back school choice policies while fighting for the free speech rights of college students.

DeVos focused on education reform during her brief remarks, stressing that the Obama administration's spending on school improvements did not yield encouraging results.

"Today we know the system is failing too many kids," she said. "Our nation's test scores have flatlined."

DeVos then turned to free speech issues on college campuses.

"They say if you voted for Donald Trump, you are a threat to the community," said DeVos, referring to the climate on campus. "But the real threat is silencing the First Amendment rights of people with whom you disagree."

Unfortunately, DeVos avoided specifics. She did not discuss the Education Department's role in fostering a climate of censorship via guidance from the Office for Civil Rights, which has stepped up anti-harassment measures over the last five years. Civil libertarians hope DeVos will reform the agency.

She also dodged a question about her alleged dispute with Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the decision to rescind the Obama administration's protections for transgender students. DeVos had opposed taking this step, but caved due to pressure from President Donald Trump.

It was not a very revealing interview, all told. If DeVos has big plans to fix schools and colleges, she certainly isn't showing her hand.