Betsy DeVos’ Visit to Parkland Was Yet Another Disappointment

On March 7, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visited Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school and toured the campus where 17 students and teachers were shot to death on February 14.

However, according to several students who survived the shooting, DeVos simply toured the campus, allowed students to take photos, but didn’t actually speak to them. This is no big surprise since she has already revealed that she cares little for the population she is supposed to be protecting.

Let’s look at her visit to Parkland first. Three weeks after the horrific shooting, DeVos took just a handful of questions at a news conference following her tour of the school. She never revealed any thoughts on what policy proposals she might consider to deal with gun violence.

“You came to our school just for the publicity and avoided our questions for the 90 minutes you were actually here,” Aly Sheehy, a 12th-grade student and survivor of the shooting, said in a tweet. “How about you actually do your job?”

Another student, Carly Novell, an editor at the student newspaper, the Eagle Eye, said that she was allowed to photograph DeVos, but she wasn’t allowed to interact with her or to walk with her on the campus tour.

“One student from each publication (TV prod/newspaper/yearbook) was able to see her and take pictures of her, no one followed her. We are part of school publication and it’s our job to report on a public figure visiting the school,” Novell said in one tweet.

As I wrote here in January 2017, it was hard to imagine a less qualified candidate for Secretary of Education than Betsy DeVos. In addition to proving herself basically ignorant of education policy during her hearing, she also knew nothing about public education and seemed intent on demolishing it; she designed Detroit’s failed charter school system; she made no secret of her desire to privatize education; and she simply didn’t seem to care.

But just like Trump’s other incompetent choices, such as Scott Pruitt, Rick Perry and Ben Carson, she was appointed in spite of, or maybe because of, her ignorance and lack of caring.

Vice President Mike Pence had to be brought in when her confirmation required a tie-breaking vote after two Republicans and every Senate Democrat voted against her.

So what has been done with her tenure so far that has disappointed public school supporters?

Here are just three issues.

School Choice

Already a prominent believer in school choice, DeVos has continued to advocate both for charter schools and for the use of vouchers so that parents can send their children to private schools.

She has been able to make a difference, in that the Republican tax plan, for example, allows families to use a tax-free saving account to pay up to $10,000 in K-12 private school tuition each year.

This is all taking money away from public education, which is why her visits to public schools have been protested by parents and teachers who point out that her support for school vouchers threatens the public school system, which it does.

For-Profit Colleges

The Obama administration had put in place protections for for-profit college students. These regulations were set to be implemented this year and were intended to provide debt forgiveness to students defrauded by these colleges and to cut off funding to those for-profit colleges that stuck students with huge loans while failing to properly educate them.

In June, DeVos blocked these rules from going into effect.

Democratic attorneys general in 17 states and the District of Columbia are suing DeVos, demanding that these regulations be enforced.

Sexual Assault

In 2011, the Obama administration issued guidelines on handling sexual assault complaints on college campuses. They instructed universities to use a “preponderance of the evidence” when reviewing sexual assault complaints instead of the “clear and convincing evidence” standard which had been in use.

In September, DeVos got rid of this Obama-era guidance. Instead, she established interim guidance, allowing schools to decide which standard they wanted to use.

DeVos brought up the idea of false accusations (in spite of the fact that campus rapes are vastly under-reported) and as a result, advocates for victims worried that this discussion would lead to “outdated ideas and myths about rape.”

The website verysmartbrothas puts it this way: “Betsy DeVos Is the World’s Most Useless White Woman.”

But just like other members of the Trump Cabinet, she is not just useless but also dangerous.

Her refusal to speak more than a few words to those Parkland students this week reinforces what we already knew; Betsy DeVos should never had been appointed Education Secretary because she has no knowledge of the public education system, could care less about it and in fact would like to destroy it.

56 comments

Marie W
Marie W1 months ago

Thank you

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Lesa D
Lesa D6 months ago

thank you Judy...

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Winn A
Winn Adams7 months ago

She needs to go NOW

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Debra G
Debra G7 months ago

She pushes charter schools because that’s her family’s business. For 20 years, the lobby her family bankrolls has propped up the billion-dollar charter school industry and insulated it from commonsense oversight, even as charter schools repeatedly failed to deliver on their promises to parents and children. Charter schools flourished in Michigan (her home state) and have performed abysmally. Moreover, she would prefer Christian fundamentalist charters - no science other than Jesus walked with dinosaurs.

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silja salonen
silja salonen7 months ago

another tosser sitting underneath that feckless wanker's desk ... licking up debris. what a slap in the face of those students. disgusted with that whole administration.

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Barbara B
Barbara B7 months ago

Typical Trump appointee - either knows nothing about the position or out to destroy it.

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Kay M
Kay M7 months ago

Good afternoon and thank you for this article on DEVOS- what a stupid choice for education secretary- her and trump make a great pair- DUMB AND DUMBER-----O. M.G. -I do not think they could have picked a worse candidate- i truly do not believe this woman attended school at all- she is that dumb---she is nothing more than a rich spoiled woman -who bought her cabinet post -with gifts to trump personally and thru his campaign- she will destroy our school systems then install her pay to learn charter schools -THERE WILL BE NO MORE FREE PUBLIC EDUCATION IN THIS COUNTRY ---thanks to her and trump- I CAN NOT WAIT TILL MEULLER GETS TIME TO INVESTIGATE THESE CROOKED CABINET MEMBERS AND DEPARTMENT HEADS APPOINTED BY TRUMP AND THE DISHONEST REPUG CONGRESS AND SENATE- SHAME ON THEM -sincerely KAY M,

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Barbara V
Barbara V7 months ago

This woman is awful. Typical of Trump's cabinet, typical of an educational destroyer and that term, "Dumb 'em down." She should be thrown out of office as unfit, but so should Trump. How long will the American people tolerate the democracy-slashing Repugs and their damned majority?

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RK R
RK R7 months ago

Agree with most of the points about DeVos here except for "except for especially with advocate both for charter schools and for the use of vouchers so that parents can send their children to private schools." That I believe in.

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Belinda Lang
Belinda Lang7 months ago

Betsy is ignorant about public education and doesn't care to learn about it.

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