The New York Times wrote about Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ sudden turnaround, from champion of local control to heavy-handed advocate of federal threats to reopen schools regardless of local conditions or wishes. Those quoted in the story are DeVos allies, which makes sense, since they must feel a sense of betrayal.

*Keri Rodrigues of the Walton-funded National Parents Union; she was a leader of the battle in Massachusetts for more charter schools, which was overwhelmingly defeated in a state referendum.

*Mike Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a prominent voice for charters, vouchers, and high-stakes testing, issues quite far from the interests of the 85% of U.S. students who attend public schools.

*Sarah Carpenter of the Walton-funded Memphis Lift, which is highly critical of the local public schools; several low-performing Memphis public schools were turned into charters and handed over to the Achievement School District, but experienced no gains over five years.

*Ubiquitous conservative pundit Frederick Hess.

DeVos’s allies are surprised to see her depart suddenly from her conservative principles.

Supporters of public schools must be even more surprised, but for different reasons.

DeVos has repeatedly denounced and demeaned public schools and their teachers. She has sung the praises of online learning, which she now finds inadequate. (Her mentor Jeb Bush is still predicting that online learning is the future, even though most parents and students have had their fill of it.)

Most likely, Trump’s campaign consultants told him that this was a winning issue for him, and Betsy is falling into line, denouncing the distance learning and home schooling that she usually celebrates, and insisting that students must return to their brick-and-mortar public schools for full-time instruction.

We have learned, to our great surprise, that Betsy, like Donald, has no fixed principles.