Betsy DeVos on guns, school choice and why people don’t like her
The secretary of education has been one of the most criticized members of President Trump’s Cabinet, but DeVos says she’s “more misunderstood than anything”
See Update at bottom
It’s almost too easy to rehash anything Betsy DeVos says in public. She is notoriously uninformed on important issues under her considerable influence as Trump’s hand-picked Secretary of Education. Her confirmation hearing (which is discussed in this Leslie Stahl 60 Minutes interview) was a nightmare; one in which DeVos stated,
At her bruising confirmation hearing, she was grilled about her wealth and lack of experience. She’s been an advocate, not an educator.
Lesley Stahl: What happened there?
Betsy DeVos: I’ve not had a root canal, but I can imagine that a root canal might be more pleasant than that was.
Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Tim Kaine all plumbed the depth of DeVos’ lack of understanding on the topic of education in, at times, excruciating detail. DeVos, as stated above, has been an advocate, not an educator, for primarily one topic: funding charter schools by diverting funds from public schools into the private sector. It’s no wonder she has become the darling of the conservative right and wacko evangelicals who have for decades chomped at the bit in the hope of getting their hand on the huge budget of the federal education department to fund parochial, charter and private schools.
On the surface, one has to ask, “What could go wrong?”. Well, as it turns out, a lot. DeVos under Kaine’s pointed questioning would not take a stand on the most elementary of questions about protecting children and their right to a decent and equitable education. Public schools have been striving to do this for centuries. Throwing for profit school systems in the mix is an open invitation for graft, inequality and a whole host of other ills that would come up depending on the organization running the schools. Kiss separation of church and state goodbye. Americans have seen the horrors of for pay prisons and for pay colleges (Trump University comes to mind). These are the outcomes of what DeVos has spent her lifetime promoting.
The reason Betsy DeVos wanted to be secretary of education was so she could promote school choice, offering parents options other than traditional public schools – where 90 percent of kids go. She has proposed massive cuts in public education funding and wants to shift billions to alternative players like private, parochial and charter schools.
Betsy DeVos: We have invested billions and billions and billions of dollars from the federal level And we have seen zero results.
Lesley Stahl: But that really isn’t true. Test scores have gone up over the last 25 years. So why do you keep saying nothing’s been accomplished?
Betsy DeVos: Well actually, test scores vis-à-vis the rest of the world have not gone up. And we have continued to be middle of the pack at best. That’s just not acceptable.
On guns in schools, DeVos is characteristically evasive. While seemingly supporting arming some teachers, she is adamant that she couldn’t see her own first grade teacher locked and loaded and ready to take on the next mass shooter to enter a school. She did little more than kick the can down the road by laying the final choice to local and state governments. She also told Stahl that she has been tapped to head up a commission to look into what states are doing to address the issue of guns and schools, again, kicking the can down the road and not presenting a coherent game plan to combat the all too frequent events like what happened in Florida recently.
Finally, DeVos takes up the issue of federal overreach in the way the government has addressed educating American school children. Overreach to DeVos and her ilk means rolling back federal regulations (many from Obama’s terms) that do not sit well with her conservative, privileged view on how to educate young folk. Of course, it has been borne out over and over again that DeVos is clueless when it comes to how public education works in this country considering she nor her children ever attended a public school, borrowed money from the government to pay for higher education or any of the other messy machinations of a public-school education.
The over-arching impression that DeVos exudes is that of a slick con woman who is all good tidings and a smile for every issue she faces, whether it works or not. It’s like Con Woman 101, or more to the point, playing the part of the willful, concerned and caring plutocrat to the unwashed and unconnected public is in some way going to charm the masses into allowing her to have her way. It is a toss up at this point. Like the environment, the economy, the public lands issue or the fossil fuel debate, not everything will come to fruition no matter how Trump and his minions try to make it so. Unfortunately, on education, anything DeVos accomplishes hurts the children of America in a direct and serious manner. On this topic, above all others, the Republicans should be ashamed of themselves. Yet, education is the one topic that the Republicans know they must control. An educated electorate won’t put up with their bullshit.
21 Reasons People Hate, Hate, HATE Betsy DeVos
She is deeply unpopular, but not because she’s misunderstood. It’s actually the opposite of that. People know exactly who she is.
Read the entire story here. This is the list:
Why People Hate Betsy DeVos:
1) She didn’t earn her position as Education Secretary. She bought it. And even then it took a tie breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence to shove her down our throats.
2) She wants to spend tax dollars to boost privatized schools in which she has a financial stake.
3) She doesn’t mind taking funding away from public schools to do it.
4) She wants to destroy the entire system of public schools which enroll 90% of America’s children.
5) She doesn’t really know what public schools are, having never attended one or having never sent her children or grandchildren to one.
6) She wants to arm teachers not because it will protect kids from school shooters, but because that boosts her family’s investment portfolio. (i.e. her brother’s mercenary army for hire, Blackwater)
7) She won’t make charter and voucher schools give the same services to special education kids as those provided by traditional public schools.
8) She’s getting rid of students’ civil rights protections while adding protections for nefarious student loan providers and fly-by-night on-line schools.
9) She’s rescinded rules that protected trans students.
10) She’s considering rescinding rules that protect minority students from being unfairly and disproportionately disciplined by schools.
11) She’s made it harder for victims of sexual assault and harassment to report abuse and easier for those accused to avoid prosecution.
12) She talks about state’s rights to determine their own education systems while using the power of the federal government to coerce them to doing things her way.
13) She wastes public tax dollars. She is the only Cabinet member protected by Federal Marshals, which costs us nearly $1 million a month. Whether this is necessary or not, as a billionaire she could save the taxpayers money by taking on this cost, herself.
14) She doesn’t care if the public doesn’t want her at their school or event. She goes anyway and then pretends to be angry that protestors showed up. She doesn’t seem to understand that as a public servant she should serve at our pleasure – not the other way around.
15) She uses tragedy as a photo-op – as she did when she visited the Parkland school to promote arming teachers. She didn’t meet significantly with students or staff. She didn’t listen to their concerns. She even bailed on her own press conference there when the queries weren’t to her liking.
16) She has no problem whitewashing black history as she did when she claimed historic black colleges were pioneers of school choice. In reality they had no choice. For many African Americans at the time, it was create black colleges or forgo post-secondary education at all.
17) She is ignorant (purposefully or not) of the results of her own policies. Her advocacy of school choice in her home state of Michigan has weakened that state’s public schools, not strengthened them.
18) She’s out of touch with average Americans. She’s the richest member of Trump’s cabinet and often travels in her on super luxury yacht.
19) She’s rich not because she earned it, but because she was born into it and married into even more wealth. Moreover, much of her wealth is due to her family’s Amway fortune – basically it’s founded on rooking average people out of their hard earned money with what’s essentially a pyramid scheme.
20) She’s arrogant. She smiles vacantly at topics that don’t deserve a smile – they deserve serious regard.
21) She is extremely biased and partisan. She is supposed to serve the public interest, but her radical Christian Fundamentalism and anti-LGBT activism make her untrustworthy to serve in that capacity. Statements such as “There is enough philanthropic dollars in America to fund what is currently the need in education… Our desire is to confront the culture in ways that will continue to advance God’s kingdom,” do not help.
Okay. That’s all I can think of – though more may pop into mind as soon as I publish this. If I missed something please include it in the comments.
Hopefully this answers DeVos’ question about why she’s hated.