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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Betsy DeVos can’t answer basic education questions

"I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.”

Betsy DeVos appeared on 60 Minutes this past weekend to discuss her plan to move federal support from public education to charter and private schools. During the interview between her and host Lesley Stahl, DeVos had a hard time answering basic questions about federal education dollars being rerouted from public schools.

DeVos struggled to explain how her plan would benefit students, particularly those in disadvantaged schools. The Secretary of Education even admitted, “I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.”

She went on to claim that studies show “when there is a large number of students that opt to go to a different school or different schools, the traditional public schools, the results get better as well.”

But this isn’t true in Michigan – Devos’s home state. For years DeVos “been a force behind the spread of charter schools in Michigan, most of which have recorded student test scores in reading and math below the state average.”

According to The Detroit News, “Michigan has fared poorly in several educational measures in recent years. About 56 percent of third-graders did not pass the reading test on Michigan’s state assessment in 2017. A Brookings Institute analysis last year also found that the state’s students made the least improvement in National Assessment of Education Progress scores since 2003.”

So when Stahl asked DeVos, “Has that happened in Michigan?”, referring to DeVos’s claim that results are better at private and charter schools, DeVos dodged stating, “Well, there [are] lots of great options and choices for students here in Michigan.”

To which Stahl replied, “Have the public schools in Michigan gotten better?”

“I don’t know — overall, I can’t say overall that they have gotten better,” DeVos replied.

“The whole state is not doing well,” Stahl pushed.

“Well, there are certainly lots of pockets where the students are doing well,” DeVos retorted.

Stahl spoke for many when she responded, “your argument that is you take funds away, the schools will get better, is not working in Michigan, where you have a huge impact and influence over the direction of the school system here.”

DeVos challenged, “I hesitate to talk about all schools in general, because schools are made up of individuals schools attending them.”

Since DeVos has taken office it has been clear her priorities are funding private education. President Trump’s 2017-2018 budget called for $1.4 billion to support investments in school choice, while cutting $9.2 billion from the already measly federal education budget.

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