Betsy DeVos Struggles to Defend School Choice in '60 Minutes' Interview

Katrina Barker
March 14, 2018

In an interview aired Sunday on CBS's 60 Minutes, DeVos struggled to explain how diverting money from underperforming schools to fund charter schools improved public education in her home state of MI.

The administration also announced that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would lead a federal commission on school safety to study the proposal of raising the minimum age for purchasing long guns to 21.

Whenever DeVos speaks, it feels as though the sum total of human knowledge is somehow diminished.

Critics of school choice say it hurts students left in the underfunded public schools and effectively privatizes what should be a public service. What she also did, though, was pull those kids out of their public school and send them to private ones instead.

According to a transcript of the 60 Minutes segment released by CBS News, interviewer Lesley Stahl began by asking DeVos about the ongoing national debate on guns, including the White House's push to arm teachers in the classroom. Asked whether public schools in MI have improved, DeVos answered: "I don't know".

STAHL: Are you in any way, do you think, suggesting that the number of false accusations are as high as the number of actual rapes or assaults? She said she met Tuesday afternoon with DeVos, who chairs the federal commission on school safety unveiled by the White House earlier this week.

By this point in the interview, DeVos' body language shifted from open and warm to closed and tense with pursed lips, making her discomfort obvious to even the most casual observer.

DEVOS: I'm not so sure exactly how that happened. Where you had a huge impact and influence over the direction of the school system here.

"I have not. I have not".

"I have not - I have not - I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming", DeVos replied.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos struggles with 'school choice' question on 60 Minutes

"Maybe you should", said Stahl.

In perhaps the most ridiculed segment of her Sunday evening "60 Minutes" interview, DeVos admitted that she does not "intentionally" visit underperforming schools, and said she didn't know if the school choice movement in MI has improved school performance, despite clear evidence that the schools have declined in recent years.

Yes, and brains are made up of individual brain cells, many of which self-destruct upon hearing DeVos speak.

Michelle Goldberg is an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times. After 10 minutes of DeVos, the human brain loses the ability to perform simple arithmetic.

Like many things in Trump's administration, this performance was shocking but not surprising. If this is the caliber of the top education official in the land, it hardly speaks well for getting an education.

In Detroit Public Schools, less than 2 percent of fourth-graders were proficient in science.

DEVOS: "Yes, well, there's lots of great options and choices for students here".

Under DeVos, the department is championing a change to Title IX that would provide more protections for students accused of sexual assault. DeVos, who once said traditional public education is a "dead end", is proving by example as the nation's top educator that education generally is a dead end. Because not every family has those means, she said, "I am fighting for the parents who don't have those choices". DeVos has now made the talk show circuit - and a splash - with comments voicing her support for arming teachers.

How does such a high-level official maintain such a low level of learning?

But DeVos' lack of knowledge about the USA education system wasn't the only thing that Ayers zeroed in on.

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