These Betsy DeVos '60 Minutes' Interview Quotes Will Make You Cringe So Hard
The most controversial cabinet secretary of the Trump administration spoke with CBS News' 60 Minutes to explain her stance on the state of public schools in the country — particularly gun control, following the shooting in Parkland, Florida. But Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' quotes from her interview still show she holds a point of view that does not align with what student activists or many education experts are pushing for.
Speaking with journalist Lesley Stahl, DeVos was open to the arming of teachers, argued federal investment in public education was without results, and admitted never having "intentionally" visited failing schools.
Following her interview, she was met with a response on social media that was extremely negative, critiquing the positions that she took. "I thought that Betsy DeVos interview was an episode of Drunk History but turns out she's the Secretary of Education," tweeted Clint Smith, a writer and Harvard Ph.D. candidate studying education inequality. That was on top of the criticism she faced for visiting Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where the February school shooting took place.
"Betsy DeVos came to my school, talked to three people, and pet a dog," one student wrote afterward. "You came to our school just for publicity and avoided our questions for the 90 minutes you were actually here," added another on Twitter.
Here are some of the quotes from DeVos that clearly left many viewers puzzled.
The Parkland Kids Want Gun Control
They want a variety of things.
Devos said this in response to Stahl's statement that Parkland students want gun control.
Arm Teachers, But Not Her Teacher
I hesitate to think of ... my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Zorhoff, I couldn't ever imagine her having a gun and being trained in that way.
DeVos acknowledged that it would seem out of place in her own education, but maintained that arming teachers is "one solution that can and should be considered" in certain "states and communities."
Investing In Education
She's not for it, at least not in the traditional sense. DeVos believes in giving families vouchers to switch to religious, private, or charter schools. When talking about school funding, she said:
We have invested billions and billions and billions of dollars from the federal level, and we have seen zero results.
On The Competition
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.
DeVos said this to argue that federal investment in education has been unsuccessful.
Families that don't have the power, that can't decide: "I'm gonna move from this apartment in downtown whatever to the suburb where I think the school is gonna be better for my child" if they don't have that choice – and they are assigned to that school, they are stuck there. I am fighting for the parents who don't have those choices. We need all parents to have those choices.
The Education System
DeVos does not think investing in the school system is the way to go.
We should be funding and investing in students, not in school buildings, not in institutions, not in systems.
Michigan Public Schools
DeVos was also asked about the status of Michigan Public Schools:
I don't know, I can't say overall that they have all gotten better.
Schools In General
She's not trying to speak about an overview of schools:
I hesitate to talk about all schools in general, because schools are made up of individual students attending them.
Visiting Underperforming Schools
She doesn't go to failing schools on purpose:
I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.
After being challenged on that, DeVos acknowledged, "Maybe I should, yes."
On The Public's View Of Her
DeVos doesn't see why people think what they do:
I think I'm more misunderstood than anything.
On Her Confirmation Hearing
Her confirmation hearing wasn't pleasant. She was challenged by senators on her views, and some questions she didn't have answers for. When talking about that hearing, she said:
I've not had a root canal, but I can imagine that a root canal might be more pleasant than that was.
She doesn't see the federal government having a role in things like transgender rights and other civil rights:
We've begun looking at and rolling back a lot of the overreach of the federal government in education.
Civil Rights Regulations
When challenged about rules protecting minority students from stricter punishments than white students receive, DeVos hesitated to speak about the effects of institutional bias on students:
Arguably, all of these issues or all of this issue comes down to individual kids. ... I am committed to making sure that students have the opportunity to learn in an environment that is conducive to their learning.
On Institutional Racism
When asked about institutional racism, she skirted the issue:
We're studying it carefully. And are committed to making sure students have opportunity to learn in safe and nurturing environments.
On Sexual Assault
One sexual assault is one too many, and one falsely accused individual is one too many.
DeVos was challenged on whether sexual assaults and false accusations are treated the same. "I don't know. I don't know. But I'm committed to a process that's fair for everyone involved," DeVos said.
DeVos' answers won't please many of her critics, and come at a difficult time for the White House. Visiting a failing school could be her first step in the right direction.