Betsy DeVos' First Day on the Job: They Don't Give Teachers Pencils Anymore

The education secretary sent out a tweet commemorating her first day, but then she got educated on challenges ahead.

Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey / Flickr

On her first day as the head of the education department, Betsy DeVos learned that American teachers have to buy their own pencils.

In a tweet that quickly went viral, Devos shared her first moment in her new office.

What was supposed to be a harmless message has now been turned against her. Hundreds — from retired teachers to concerned citizens — responded to the tweet by informing the new education secretary that many school districts lack the resources to provide enough pencils for their classes.

The billionaire Republican donor reportedly delivered her first public message to education department staff on Wednesday, during which she acknowledged the backlash she faced in the confirmation process.

“The events of the last few weeks have likely raised more questions and spawned more confusion than they have brought light and clarity,” Devos said. “So, for starters, please know I’m a ‘door open’ type of person who listens more than speaks.”

Devos attempted to find humor in her problematic confirmation, saying the process was “kind of a bear.”

“We believe students deserve learning environments that foster innovation and curiosity, and are also free from harm,” Devos said seriously at a later point in her address. “I’m committed to working with you to make this the case.”


Taylor Link is an assistant editor at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @taylorlink_.

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