'60 Minutes' Snubs the Facts on Education

Posted March 14, 2018

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos stumbled through a series of high-profile television interviews recently, in which she appeared unable to explain or defend several of her department's key policies. That obliviousness - or worse - is behind one of the more disturbing moments in her "60 Minutes" interview.

According to a CBS This Morning tweet, a Department of Education spokeswoman also responded to the public criticism, saying DeVos is "quite aware" that the state of MI needs to improve for its students.

But studies have shown mixed results in Michigan, DeVos' home state.

See video below for an excerpt dealing specifically with MI schools.

In the tense exchange, correspondent Lesley Stahl questioned whether it's wise to remove funds from public schools and inject them into charter schools, as DeVos had a hand in doing in MI.

More news: Storm Team 11 Forecast: Rain Turns To Wintry Mix Tomorrow Morning

Stahl noted that the school's students criticized DeVos's visit, accusing her of seeking publicity and avoiding their questions.

DeVos also tweeted a link to an article by Michigan Radio on the difference in M-STEP scores between charter and traditional public schools in Detroit.

I appreciated that Secretary DeVos came to meet with me, but I was extremely disappointed at how the meeting went.

The political response to DeVos's interview has been swift and fierce, as well, with Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) tweeting that DeVos is "clearly unqualified". Stahl countered, pointing out that public-school test results have gone up in the past 25 years.

DeVos: Well, there are certainly lots of pockets where this, the students are doing well and... "Scores are stagnant. Students need more options, and we must rethink our approach to education".

More news: Jake Arrieta finally finds a home - that Mets won't like

Stahl asked DeVos about the Trump administration's decision to investigate (with, as Politico speculated, the intent of overturning) the Obama-era rule seeking to prevent discriminatory discipline, a term used to describe the statistical findings that students of color are disciplined more harshly, according to the Department of Education's own website.

Critics took to social media to lambaste DeVos - a MI billionaire who never attended or sent her children to a public school - for stumbling over some of her answers about basic education issues.

"I'm not so sure exactly". But I think there are a lot of really powerful forces allied against change.

DEVOS: - I'm more misunderstood than anything.

The DeVos interview has already sent a message that schools can be less mindful of stark disciplinary disparities. And appears to be voluntarily wearing rose-colored glasses by seeing only the places where everything is going hunky dory. "She couldn't say whether the number of false accusations of sexual assault on school campuses is lower than the number of actual rapes or assaults", writes Valerie Strauss. I don't know. But I'm committed to a process that's fair for everyone involved. Well, consider that DeVos, whose brother Erik Prince founded the Blackwater mercenary outfit, jettisoned the Education Department's usual security in favor of round-the-clock protection by USA marshals for $6.5 million a year. Like, you don't have to necessarily agree with her but at least she should have a thought about all of this, right? This follows reports that calls came into the Federal Bureau of Investigation tip line warning about 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz, prior to his shooting and killing 17 people last month at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

More news: Turkey will deliver Afrin to its true owners, says Erdoğan

When Stahl asked outright whether teachers should have guns in classrooms, DeVos offered a noncommittal answer.