As Donald Trump assembled his Cabinet last year, some prerequisites candidates were expected to satisfy included: staggeringwealth, outright contempt for the mission for the agency they were being hired to run, and/or total ignorance of what, in fact, their respective departments were supposed to do. In Betsy DeVos, secretary of education, the president scored a trifecta: a billionaire who wants to destroy public schools, and who seemingly lacks even the most basic understanding of education policy. That was on display during DeVos’s painful confirmation hearing last year, in which she was unable to answer simple questions about education, and, incredibly, suggested that teachers be armed to protect students from grizzly bears. And one year later, DeVos still has no idea what she‘s talking about, if last night’s sit-down with 60 Minutes is any indication.
In an interview with Lesley Stahl, DeVos couldn’t actually say whether the number of rapes or sexual assaults on school campuses was the same as the number of false accusations, which was the basis for her decision to repeal Obama-era Title IX guidelines for how schools should handle sexual assault allegations. Despite confessions she couldn’t “ever imagine” her first grade teacher, Mrs. Zorhoff, having a gun, she maintained her position that arming teachers “should be an option,” claiming that “we have invested billions and billions and billions of dollars from the federal level, and we have seen zero results,” yet wilting under further questioning from Stahl on that front. But the real pièce de résistance was when she attempted to claim that public schools that have seen their funding cut are performing better as a result:
Stahl: Why take away money from that school that’s not working—to bring them up to a level where . . . that school is working?
DeVos: Well, we should be funding and investing in students, not in school, school buildings, not in institutions, not in systems.
Stahl: O.K. But what about the kids who are back at the school that’s not working? What about those kids?
DeVos: Well, in places where there have been, where there is, a lot of choice that’s been introduced, Florida, for example, the studies show that when there’s a large number of students that opt to go to a different school or different schools, the traditional public schools actually, the results get better, as well.
Stahl: Now, has that happened in Michigan? We’re in Michigan. This is your home state.
DeVos: 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.