Amid backlash, DeVos defends school choice

14 March, 2018, 06:13 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • Betsy DeVos can't answer basic questions on sexual assault, school choice in rough 60 Minutes interview

She expected Jed to do his homework once in school, so she did her homework first on the schools near their SC home.

The soon-to-be-confirmed secretary of education politely confirmed at the time that neither she nor or her children had much experience with the public education system.

Like many in the Trump administration, DeVos likes to keep a low profile, rarely consenting to media appearances or events where she can't tightly control the narrative.

Thirteen months into her appointment, it seems little has changed in terms of DeVos's experience with the education system she helms.

Her conservative defenders accused "60 Minutes" of waging a biased attack on Ms. DeVos complete with frequent references to her wealth-she's a billionaire-and a dig at her "sheltered life in MI".

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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos pushed back Monday after being reamed by the left for her choppy "60 Minutes" interview, accusing the show of ignoring test-score data she provided beforehand and pointing to selectively edited footage.

STAHL: Have the public schools in MI gotten better? "Communities should have the tools, states should have the tool, but nobody should be mandated to do it", she said. "We need all parents to have those choices".

"Well, there are certainly lots of pockets where the students are doing well", DeVos said.

DeVos is just the latest member of Trump's Cabinet to come under scrutiny. Between suggesting teachers in Wyoming should be armed with guns because of bears and struggling to answer basic questions at her confirmation hearing, it's been a rough start for DeVos. But DeVos stumbled when Stahl asked her whether the same was true in MI.

Stahl questioned DeVos on her decades of philanthropic intervention in the school system in MI, where her family has promoted a free market approach to school choice, including for-profit operators of charter schools that receive taxpayer funding. The Dear Colleague Letter said school personnel must "understand that they, rather than school resource officers and other security or law enforcement personnel, are responsible for administering routine student discipline".

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"It's hard for me to get mad at anyone who's in the game to try to make the lives of children better, compared to people who sit on the sidelines and point fingers, even if we disagree", said Michigan School Superintendent Brian Whiston told Bridge in December 2016. When Stahl asked whether, as secretary, she'd ever visited a failing school to find out what went wrong, DeVos said, "I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming". DeVos' admitted ignorance is particularly surprising, as she and her family have given millions of dollars to school choice efforts in MI.

"Maybe you should", Stahl said. Charter schools are privately run but publicly funded. I don't know. But I'm committed to a process that's fair for everyone involved.

The Detroit Free Press responded to DeVos's interview by reemphasizing its work studying education trends in the state, including coverage of a recent report raising concerns about a statewide drop in proficiency amongst third graders.

After her morning television interviews, DeVos repaired to Twitter to take issue with one part of the CBS interview. In the midst of criticizing the show for its editorial choices, she reiterated her positions on school choice, offered support for charter schools, and shared a map of all the schools she has visited. Stahl asked DeVos on Sunday.

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