Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos does not have an easy job.
The Michigan billionaire has been charged with overseeing America's education system and has set her sights on making public schools more private, offering voucher-based programs as a solution to "dead end" traditional public schools. While she has received very vocal criticism for her work, DeVos is succeeding with this agenda. Whether any of this benefits students or not is still to be determined, but for the time being, the secretary is bumbling her way through just like many of her inexperienced cabinet cohorts.
In case anyone needed a reminder of this, DeVos's March 11 appearance on CBS's 60 Minutes was cringeworthy proof that DeVos is barely treading educational water. The 13-minute segment sees correspondent Lesley Stahl going head to head with DeVos, poking holes in every canned answer DeVos presents as evidence of a job well done. When asked if Michigan schools have gotten better as a result of her plans, DeVos answers that she doesn't know. When asked if she has visited the "really bad schools" she frequently criticizes, DeVos answers that she has not. When asked if she sees disproportionate institutional racism in schools, DeVos answers that her department is "studying" the problem.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 12, 2018
The interview also addressed the movement for gun control founded by student survivors of the Parkland, FL, shooting. DeVos responds that students "want a variety of things," that they "want solutions" instead of gun control specifically. DeVos went on to explain that arming teachers "should be an option" and that she feels a sense of urgency in the subject. Said urgency has been disputed on two fronts: Stahl, who called this "talking . . . instead of acting" during the interview, and the students DeVos visited at Parkland last week who summed up her visit as "just for publicity."
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." DeVos expounded during a March 12 appearance on Today, saying in reference to guns that "schools should have this tool," while noting that "we have to get much broader than talking about guns."
Solving problems like gun control and educational reform are undoubtedly difficult. Whether DeVos is capable of solving them is still to be determined — and her showing on 60 Minutes isn't exactly a vote of confidence.