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Betsy DeVos Tries to Tweet Her Own Vindication after Terrible 60 Minutes Interview.

March 12, 2018

On March 11, 2018, US ed sec Betsy DeVos crashed and burned in her interview with Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes.

The kindest way to describe DeVos’ performance is to say she was woefully (shamefully?) unprepared. The less-kind way is to say that DeVos is a plutocratic ideologue who sees no reason to investigate any issue outside of the narrow sphere of her school-choice-advancing mission; as such, she set herself up for her incompetence to shine like the noonday sun.

DeVos’ bumbling under Stahl’s questions has made national news many times over in the 24 hours following the interview. One of the more insightful articles is this one in Esquire. An excerpt:

Things got significantly worse when Stahl asked about DeVos’ home state of Michigan. She and her family have spent huge sums of money to lobby for school choice in Michigan, but DeVos claimed not to know how the state’s public school system was doing.

Stahl: Now, has that happened in Michigan? We’re in Michigan. This is your home state.

DeVos: Michi–Yes, well, there’s lots of great options and choices for students here.

Stahl: Have the public schools in Michigan gotten better?

DeVos: I don’t know. Overall, I– I can’t say overall that they have all gotten better.

Stahl: The whole state is not doing well.

DeVos: Well, there are certainly lots of pockets where this– the students are doing well and–

Stahl: No, but your argument that if you take funds away that the schools will get better, is not working in Michigan where you had a huge impact and influence over the direction of the school system here.

DeVos: I hesitate to talk about all schools in general because schools are made up of individual students attending them.

Stahl: The public schools here are doing worse than they did.

DeVos: Michigan schools need to do better. There is no doubt about it.

Stahl: Have you seen the really bad schools? Maybe try to figure out what they’re doing?

DeVos: I have not– I have not– I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.

Stahl: Maybe you should.

DeVos: Maybe I should. Yes.

That’s right: when asked if she visits underperforming schools, the U.S. Secretary of Education’s answer was: never on purpose. This is an advertisement for what the Trump administration is all about. The data, the studies, even in-person observation—any way that we have of verifying whether a policy has worked or will work—are all irrelevant.

DeVos believes, deeply, that privatizing public education is the solution to all our problems. That she believes this, and is rich and influential enough to put her ideas into practice, is all that matters. The president’s thought processes are frequently an inversion of the scientific method, where his staff’s resources must be marshaled to find evidence to justify his ideology. It appears that ethos extends to his cabinet. DeVos championed school choice for years in her home state, and public schools there are now doing worse, but that has not impacted her calculus at all. The solution remains more school choice, just as the solution to gun violence is more guns.

Now, what is sad is that DeVos tried to vindicate herself on Twitter by tweeting the following about Michigan’s test scores.

Pay attention to the second sentence, which comically undoes DeVos’ vindicated-via-highlighting efforts, for it states that the DeVos-showcased charter schools are also bombing out:

Not sure how one would quantify “performing twice as well” as “still extremely low,” but surely for marketing purposes, it is better to say the also-extremely-low-scoring Detroit charter schools are *Two Times Better.*

The highest stat in her tweet is 23.6 percent.

Betsy says that “the reforms are helping,” yet she also says that she “intentionally” has not visited “underperforming” schools– which is apparently all of Detroit, about which she is keen on tweeting to try to repair her image but whose doorstep she intentionally avoids because these schools are not choice-showcase fodder.

Just remember: DeVos is not intentionally avoiding underperforming schools; she is intentionally avoiding individual students attending them.

lesley stahl betsy devos            Lesley Stahl; Betsy DeVos (The Daily Beast)


Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

  1. Key finding–“DeVos is not intentionally avoiding underperforming schools; she is intentionally avoiding individual students attending them.” Thanks, Mercedes!

  2. Also, touting how the charter schools are beating “traditional” public schools on test scores directly contradicts the idea that school choice helps all public schools, which was the initial claim.

  3. Imagine Stahl, or ANY big name media journalist, going after school reformers with true indignation: the truth can only be exposed if the person doing the interviewing actually cares about the mess being made.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mercedes Schneider: DeVos Tries to Recoup Her Embarrassment on Twitter | Diane Ravitch's blog
  2. NOLA’s Cypress Academy Charter School Rescued by (Wait for It) Local School Board | deutsch29

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