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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos stumbles during '60 Minutes' interview

13 Mars 2018

Commentary: The White House repeated its risky proposal to arm teachers in the wake of another mass school shooting.

DeVos published a few tweets saying "60 Minutes" had failed to include information about schools in MI, the secretary's home state, that she had provided.

President Obama's approach to school discipline was announced in 2014 by then-Attorney General Eric Holder and then-Education Secretary Arne Duncan. "Overall, I can't say overall that they have all gotten better". "I've often said, I was the kid from the South Bronx, but I was smart and I was in the books. I will stipulate that charter schools are doing better, but that is a frightful outcome for everybody involved". "And [we] are committed to making sure students have the opportunity to learn in safe and nurturing environments".

DeVos didn't get into specifics when pressed, though. "And all students means all students".

"Betsy DeVos wasn't asked what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow", he said.

Last night on 60 Minutes, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had trouble with a few of the questions.

Since DeVos has taken office it has been clear her priorities are funding private education.

When Stahl pointed out that test scores have gone up over the past 25 years, DeVos said the United States is still "middle of the pack" at best. For example, Stahl suggested that the Secretary of Education should visit public schools that are underperforming. She told Stahl that there have been no positive results from federal investments in public school, but her claim is simply incorrect.

DeVos, who supports "school choice", could not provide evidence that the policy helps students.

But DeVos, who has met with students, teachers and families in the wake of the deadly February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., said little progress had been made protecting students over the past several years.

"I have not - I have not -I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming", DeVos answered.

DeVos's thoughts are imperfectly timed given President Donald Trump's analysis of the guns-in-school debate: a recent Twitter tirade revealed Trump's demand that schools not be "gun-free zones" as that would invite "violence and danger".

"The Secretary will unveil a robust plan regarding the commission's membership, scope of work and timeline in the coming days", Liz Hill, a spokesperson for the Department of Education, said in an email. "No student, no family, no teacher and no school should have to live the horror of Parkland or Sandy Hook or Columbine again".

The White House proposal offers firearms training for school personnel on a voluntary basis and endorses the Fix-NICS bill to close key gaps in federal background checks on firearms purchases. Stahl asked DeVos on Sunday.

Student activists for gun safety have pushed for initiatives much broader than those the White House is now backing, including banning assault weapons. Earlier this month, a Superior Court judge rejected a motion by PHEAA to dismiss the lawsuit, although the ruling did not address the pre-emption issue.

Black public school students are suspended at 3.8 times the rate of white students.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos stumbles during '60 Minutes' interview