The powerful chairman of the U.S. Senate committee overseeing the Department of Education sternly ordered current Secretary Betsy DeVos to back off circumventing a new federal law on education policy.
Senator Lamar Alexander sponsored the 2015 "Every Student Succeeds Act" as a bipartisan replacement for the 2001 "No Child Left Behind Act" (NCLB).
A new report in Politico says DeVos "thanked" Sen. Alexander for calling to tell her department to back off circumventing the law he sponsored.
Sen. Alexander claims that DeVos aide and appointee of President Donald Trump, Jason Botel, "obviously hadn't read the law." Botel, the founder of a Baltimore chain of charter schools, did not require Senate confirmation for the position of acting assistant secretary.
Alexander had served as Secretary of Education for President George HW Bush after serving as the president of the University of Tennessee and governor. DeVos had no experience as an educator or in government prior to confirmation, which was historic for being the very first time a nominee was only confirmed with a tie-breaking vote from the vice president.
The dispute involved the definition of "ambitious" in evaluating state plans after Alexander included a provision explicitly barring the Education secretary from defining such goals.
With Secretary DeVos deferring to Sen. Alexander on this issue, Politico reported, "observers say he's trying to keep her agency on a tight leash."