Betsy DeVos Struggles to Defend School Choice in ’60 Minutes’ Interview

Over the weekend, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos appeared on “60 Minutes  in an interview with journalist Lesley Stahl — and she did not do well, failing to appropriately answer even the most basic of questions about U.S. education.

In addition to being roasted by social media, DeVos apparently made an unfavorable impression at the White House. Her interview demonstrated a combination of unpreparedness, a lack of familiarity with basic issues in education and an inability to support her own talking points.

DeVos has become famous as a champion of privatizing education, and she’s distinguished herself by enabling campus rapists, undermining civil rights protections and profiteering from the student loan crisis.

Last week, DeVos attracted widespread condemnation during her visit to Parkland, Florida, where she failed to meet or engage with students affected by a recent mass shooting. Now, she’s being tasked with leading a commission on school violence. DeVos has now made the talk show circuit — and a splash — with comments voicing her support for arming teachers.

Her “60 Minutes” appearance included a demonstration of her disinterest in civil rights issues and documented issues in schools. During a section of the interview on school discipline, a notoriously racialized issue, DeVos tried to claim “this issue comes down to individual kids.” And when Stahl redirected, DeVos talked right over her.

The Washington Post offers a highlight reel of some of her most egregious comments:

In an argument for “school choice” — funneling public funds into private schools — DeVos insisted that student performance improves in areas where students can attend charter schools and other institutions. When Stahl presented her with evidence to the contrary, DeVos shrugged it off.

Then she doubled down on allowing people to leave districts and take their children elsewhere, without acknowledging what happens to the remaining students who can’t or don’t want to leave. “Well, we should be funding and investing in students, not in school buildings, not in institutions, not in systems,” DeVos said.

Stahl appeared somewhat taken aback, and she pressed DeVos on her claim that privatizing education like this works better. DeVos then brought up Florida schools, maintaining that school choice improved performance, though little evidence supports that.

But when Stahl asked her about how things were going in Michigan, DeVos appeared stumped, despite the fact that she had tremendous influence over education in the state — and the legacy she left behind was a mess. And when Stahl followed up to ask whether she had visited failing Michigan schools, the education secretary said she hadn’t “intentionally” done so. DeVos later defended herself on Twitter.

“Why have you become, people say, the most hated Cabinet secretary?” Stahl asked. The reply? “There are a lot of really powerful choices allied against change.”

Like many in the Trump administration, DeVos likes to keep a low profile, rarely consenting to media appearances or events where she can’t tightly control the narrative. Her performance in recent interviews may explain why: Despite having ample time to prepare, DeVos didn’t appear to have considered potential questions — and she clearly hadn’t gathered material to support her points.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

50 comments

Lesa D
Lesa D28 days ago

the struggle is real because you CANNOT defend the indefensible...

thank you s.e. ...

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sharon mora
sharon moraabout a month ago

What can you expect from the world of wrestling? She is as (un) qualified as the rest of the misfits at Trump's posts.

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Pat P
Pat Pabout a month ago

Like everyone in the Trump Administration, DeVoss is an inept, dangerous idiot!

In all this time, she has not, intentionally, visited the schools that are underperforming. Then, Why in the hell not?!
Could it be that she just doesn't care or would even know how to approach problems that don't involve the super wealthy? She will completely destroy our educational system, the longer she remains. Unfortunately, she may be one of the worst Cabinet members but, certainly, not the only extremely poor disastrous ones. They ALL are!

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Julie D
Julie Dabout a month ago

DeVoss is an ignorant idiotic woman who needs to be removed from her office ASAP.

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeldabout a month ago

Margaret G.,
You are correct. Those in the middle of the socio-economic perform equally well in either. It is those at the high and low end that perform better in private schools.

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Winn A
Winn Adamsabout a month ago

What a moron . . . .

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Margaret G
Margaret Goodmanabout a month ago

RK R claims that students in private schools do better than students in public schools. Everything that I have read says that is not true when you control for socio-economic status of the students.

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Virginia Miller
Virginia Millerabout a month ago

Thanks for the info

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Danuta W
Danuta Wabout a month ago

thank you for posting

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lori G
lori Gearhartabout a month ago

Trump suck !!!!

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