A Letter Of Professional Guidance From Dolores Umbridge To Betsy DeVos

Dear Mrs. DeVos,

I am so honored that you reached out to me for advice on how to handle school reopenings for the Fall 2020 school year. It is not often that I am referred to as “a beacon of wisdom” or an “unparalleled role model for school leadership,” so I am truly honored by your kind words. In our respective positions, we have worked tirelessly under the authority of true visionaries, who were not once dissuaded by our “lack of qualifying credentials” or our “deeply insufficient knowledge of curriculum and pedagogy.” As leaders in education, we have been tasked with making important decisions for the welfare of our students, and now, dear Betsy, the time has come for you to rise to the occasion!

Let us get straight to the issue at hand. I know your citizens are concerned about reopening schools while your country is plagued by Covid-19. Like you, I have been in the challenging position of opening schools during dangerous times. The anxiety about returning to in-person learning during a deadly pandemic recalls fond memories of a time when Hogwarts students were reluctant to return to campus for fear of being Petrified or attacked by Unforgivable Curses.

Although they were challenging, those experiences taught me that in times of crisis, we must look to our leaders and proceed accordingly. Do you think that Minister Cornelius Oswald Fudge lost sleep over the fate of a few expandable Hogwarts students? Of course not! Our great leader was always able to see the bigger picture. Fortunately, you too serve under the guidance of a very stable genius who shares Fudge’s unparalleled sense of morality. Your president does not cave to the liberal conspiracy that masks are essential, and neither should you! America’s feckless Democrats may indeed want schools to remain closed for the sole purpose of usurping your power, but you mustn’t give into them. As the wise adage goes, “Don’t let the Muggles get you down.”

Next, you must get your teachers in line. You mentioned that these underlings have been rallying against your plans to reopen schools with protests, memes, and something called “TikTok.” Betsy, you mustn’t stand for this type of insolence! I strongly suggest you follow my lead and issue educational decrees to silence these dissidents. 

My 26th educational decree was one of my best, as I banned teachers from giving students any information that was not strictly related to the subjects they teach. Since you wisely assert that a teacher’s sole purpose is to provide instruction in the fundamentals of math, tennis, and the Holy Bible, I urge you to adopt similar legislation. The last thing you need is teachers offering their unsolicited perspectives on “science.” And if school administrators can’t manage to hire teachers willing to follow these guidelines, you must supersede them, as I did with my 22nd decree. If you take this path, I direct you to educational paragons like Severus Snape, who once wisely reminded children that they are “neither special nor important.” 

Furthermore, Betsy, you must be sure to take control of the narrative surrounding Covid-19. One of the best ways to do this is by suppressing life-saving resources and information. In your letter, you write that parents and teachers have been demanding protocols for things like hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, temperature checks, and distance learning. I personally believe preparation only elicits fear, and that the best course of action here is to simply deny, deny, deny. If your community is facing an active threat, such as, let’s say, the return of a murderous dark wizard who has split his soul in seven horcruxes, the best thing to do is maintain the pretense that everything is perfectly fine! 

To this end, you must ensure that students and teachers alike are entirely unprepared to deal with the dangers you face. Just as I once insisted that there was no need to learn defensive spells to protect against dark magic, you too should discourage schoolwide protocols for wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing. Instead of making preparations, focus your energies on creating baseless accusations about your enemies. Invent distracting hashtags to support your conspiracy theories, such as #DumbledoresArmy, and get them trending on Twitter. I know it seems juvenile, but I promise you, people will fall for it. Similarly, I encourage you to undo any and all protective measures enacted by your predecessor. When things inevitably go south, you can conveniently blame the fallout on their lack of foresight. Genius!

Finally, be prepared to punish any individuals who are unwilling to comply with your rules. You may not have the stomach to force renegades to use a black punishment quill, but your Muggles really get their phoenix feathers ruffled by unconstitutional threats like “defunding public education.” Stay on this path!

In closing, I wish you the best of luck in your reopening plans. In our next correspondence, we can further discuss the importance of school choice; you are indeed correct in the notion that not all students are destined for a future in witchcraft and wizardry. 

Dolores Jane Umbridge
Former High Inquisitor and Headmistress of Hogwarts

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