Public education’s public enemy #1

Cross-posted from

Betsy DeVos is the prime example of an X/antiX cabinet pick.

Trump’s pick for Education Secretary failed to do her homework reports Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) thus demonstrating her complete lack of qualifications for a cabinet post. Her inability to answer Senators’ questions on topics related to public education is mind-boggling even if not surprising.

Benen quotes NBC news:

DeVos refused to promise that she would not privatize or strip funding from the public schools she would oversee if confirmed.

Asked bluntly by Sen. Patty Murray of Washington whether she would commit to keeping funding for public schools intact, DeVos dodged the question.

Benen continues with additional examples.

Over and over again, Democratic senators pressed the Education nominee on questions she must have known were coming, but DeVos was nevertheless woefully unprepared for each of them.

In one especially cringe-worthy exchange, Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) asked about the Individuals with Disabilities Act, which DeVos didn’t realize is an existing federal law. “I may have confused it,” the nominee conceded.

Soon after, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) asked about her opinions on the difference between evaluating education proficiency and growth, one of the more common areas of debate in the field. DeVos rambled for a while, before making clear she had no idea what Franken was talking about.

Asked by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) about guns in schools, DeVos suggested grizzly bears may try to attack children in states in Wyoming, so she’d prefer to leave the matter up to states.

The Washington Post put together a video of “head-scratching moments” from DeVos’ hearing, and it wasn’t a short clip.

There is a certain irony to the developments: Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Education failed to do her homework, and as a consequence, she flunked her big test.

The truth is, DeVos’ nomination is tough to defend on the merits, even looking past yesterday’s hearing. As we discussed when she was first tapped for the position, the Republican activist has spent years crusading against public education and pushing for privatization though voucher schemes.

The New York Times reported in November, “It is hard to find anyone more passionate about the idea of steering public dollars away from traditional public schools than Betsy DeVos.”

In addition, DeVos’ qualifications as the anti-education nominee have been extensively explored in this blog by your Scriber in Trump picks school choice advocate as education head and The DeVos plan to destroy public education: “any kind of choice that hasn’t yet been thought of”, and by our contributor Linda Lyon in Graham Keegan is “Very Pleased” With DeVos…What a Shock!.

If someone attacks you, that person you might regard, with justification, as your enemy. DeVos’ history of pushing privatization and vouchers, I assert, marks her as public education’s public enemy #1.


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