DeVos made her statement during a department wide virtual meeting to government employees that she said will "be here through the coming transition and beyond," according to audio obtained by Politico.
“Let me leave you with this plea: Resist,” DeVos said. “Be the resistance against forces that will derail you from doing what’s right for students. In everything you do, please put students first — always.”
The Washington Examiner reached out to the Education Department for comment. A spokesperson did not reply to Politico for a response.
DeVos told workers in the department that “in everything we accomplished was to do what’s right for students” and added that “four years later, it’s still my focus, and it’s still my hope for all of you.”
Earlier this month, DeVos delivered remarks at the 2020 Federal Student Aid Virtual Training Conference, claiming that attempts to erase student loan debts would place a strain on U.S. taxpayers, defining it as an "insidious notion of government gift-giving." DeVos asserted that free college would urge universities to set allocations for a smaller number of students and ask others to pay full price. She said earlier it would limit students from choosing their favored degree program.
"In this sense, you are no longer counselors, but rationers. You'll be forced to merely oversee rationing of state-approved, higher education options. After all, the government doesn't control anything only halfway," she said.
“Let me leave you with this plea: Resist,” Ms. DeVos said.
The remarks not only echo the “Resistance” language of liberal activists since November 2016, but also mirror reports in the first months of 2017, in which liberal outlets such as Vanity Fair and The Washington Post reported, objectively or approvingly, about “resistance” within the federal bureaucracy to fulfilling President Trump’s policies.
It remains to be seen whether Ms. DeVos‘ call for “resistance” will be regarded by the career officials with whom she often battled in her four-year tenure and who she acknowledged in Tuesday’s comments will be there after her.
Department officials announced during the all-hands staff meeting that they have lined up career officials to take over in a provisional capacity in roles that will be left by an exodus of political appointees in the coming weeks.
The Trump administration plans to tap Phil Rosenfelt for the role of acting secretary of Education, according to a list obtained by Politico.
Rosenfelt is the department's deputy general counsel and a longtime career employee. He played the same role during the transition from the Obama administration to the Trump administration in 2017, serving as acting secretary of Education from late January of 2017 when Secretary John B. King Jr. left the office until early February of that year when DeVos was sworn in.