By Alyson Klein
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos came into office saying she wanted to slim down the federal role on K-12. By at least one metric, she’s delivered: The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education has lost about 14 percent of its staff since the start of the Trump administration.
So how much does that actually matter to the department’s “customers” (states) and what does it mean for the federal role in protecting vulnerable groups of students?
It depends on who you ask. Some state officials say they often have to wait weeks or months for answers to simple questions, and aren’t getting enough guidance on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act.
In the past, “You’d reach out to a program officer and you’d get timely responses to inquiries,” said one state official who, like five others interviewed for this article, requested anonymity to speak candidly about interactions with the department. “Now what we’re seeing in some instances is that responses are going unanswered for months at a time.”