Betsy Devos, President Trump's Secretary of Education, describes herself as "misunderstood," and doesn't seem to understand how she's become one of this administration's most controversial figures. She's been a contentious choice for the position from the very beginning, with even two Republicans voting against her confirmation after her Senate hearing.
The Secretary made news once again on March 11 for an absolutely cringe-worthy interview with Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes. Over the course of the interview, the same in which she can't grasp why she has become so "hated" by the American public, Devos struggled to back up her own school choice policies with any relevant data, appeared unaware of the status of schools in her home state of Michigan, and admitted she hasn't visited schools that underperform.
Sec. of Education Betsy DeVos struggles to answer fairly basic questions on school performance on 60 Minutes https://t.co/lFVq3USwUW— Axios (@Axios) 1520815487.0
Even before her time in office, Devos has been an ardent of supporter of school choice.
Through the school choice system, public funds can be given to non-public schools (regardless of whether they are private, charter, or have a religious affiliation). As a private citizen, she and her husband, Richard DeVos of Amway, helped pass Michigan's 1993 law allowing charter schools, and public funding of private schools. Though their critics claim they're essentially attempting to privatize public schooling, the Devoses believe competition makes all schools in the area better. It's not unlike the free market; if students' parents can choose their children's school, so the couple's thinking goes, schools will be encouraged to make themselves as good as possible.
Just watched the whole @60Minutes piece on Betsy DeVos. Pretty rough. @LesleyRStahl seemed to know more about the n… https://t.co/jiafT5Jh4G— Philip Rucker (@Philip Rucker) 1520819756.0
When Stahl brought up the subject, however, Devos struggled to defend her position.
Stahl questioned why money should be taken away from schools with struggling children, to which Devos claimed the government should be "investing money in students, not in school buildings; not in institutions; not in systems." When asked what was to become of the students who remained in the de-funded school, the Secretary referenced cities in Florida where mass exoduses from public schools actually cause those schools to improve. The status of Michigan, the state where Devos and her husband championed the charter system, became a sticking point, however, when the Secretary struggled to recall how public schools were faring. Stahl then delivered this scathing line:
...your argument that if you take funds away the schools will get better is not working in Michigan.
The clip concludes with Devos admitting she hasn't visited underperforming schools:
I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.
To which Stahl replied:
Maybe you should.