News & Politics

Betsy DeVos Made a Complete Fool of Herself on '60 Minutes'

Even basic questions seemed to frazzle the secretary of education.

Betsy DeVos
Photo Credit: Screengrab

Education Secretary and multi-billionaire Betsy DeVos firmly believes that her ascent to the top of the list of President Donald Trump's "most hated" cabinet secretaries is simply the result of one big misunderstanding, but in an interview on CBS's "60 Minutes" Sunday night, DeVos bolstered critiques of her right-wing agenda by failing to answer basic questions and admitting that she hasn't even bothered to visit struggling schools.

"I can't say overall that they have all gotten better," DeVos admitted of Michigan's schools. Pressed by CBS's Lesley Stahl to explain why the so-called "school choice" model she has championed has produced such poor results in her home state of Michigan—where DeVos spent millions on the expansion of charter initiatives and other privatization schemes—the education secretary couldn't muster much of a response.

When Stahl asked DeVos if she has visited the schools that are struggling thanks to lack of funding and failed charter experiments—problems that the Trump White House is looking to worsen with devastating cuts to public education funding—she responded that she has "not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming."

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"Maybe you should," Stahl said.

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Lawmakers and other critics seized upon the "60 Minutes" interview as further evidence that DeVos is the antithesis of what Americans should expect from the head of the Department of Education.

"Betsy DeVos is disliked because she wants to privatize public education, is rolling back civil rights in education, and supports arming teachers in schools," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) wrote on Twitter in response to Sunday's interview. "It is that simple."

Others echoed Jayapal and expressed alarm—but not surprise, given both her abysmal Senate confirmation hearing last year and her actions over the past several months—at DeVos's inability to respond to even the simplest questions about the state of education in the U.S.

As a reward for her performance—which Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) argued earns her the title "worst Secretary of Education this country has ever seen"—President Donald Trump placed DeVos in charge of the new Federal Commission on School Safety, which is set to explore possible "solutions" to school shootings, including arming teachers.

Jake Johnson is a staff writer for Common Dreams. Follow him on Twitter: @wordsofdissent