- In an address to U.S. Department of Education employees on her first day on the job, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos asked the education community to "come together, find common ground and put the needs of our students first."
- DeVos, whose commitment to underserved students was called into question several times during the confirmation process, also made pointed references to an emphasis on inclusion and a need to serve all students.
- Her address included a reference to "evidence-based solutions" and acknowledged "nontraditional students," but did not mention charters versus traditional schools or a stance on traditional public education.
It makes sense that the first address of the secretary to her new employees would take on a tone which seeks to reassure them and put behind her some of the fractious rhetoric that has surrounded her nomination and confirmation. Even as employees gathered in the overcrowded Barnard Auditorium, a small group of protestors railed on outside of the Lyndon Baines Johnson building, which houses the department. The task of any leader is to assuage concerns of employees and encourage them to focus on the work at hand.
DeVos will have a much greater task convincing the broader education community that she will leave a positive impact on the industry. Many questions remain for many in the education community about her commitment to serving the most vulnerable students, including those with disabilities and special needs, and preserving — and improving — public education in this country.