March 12, 2018

Morning Joe's Mike Barnicle introduced a portion of the painful 60 Minutes interview featuring education chief Betsy DeVos's deer-in-the-headlights routine. (You can watch the entire episode here.)

LESLIE STAHL: Why take money away from that school that's not working to bring them up to a level where that school is working?

DE VOS: Well, we should be funding and investing in students, not in schools -- school buildings, not in institutions, not in systems --

STAHL: Okay, but what about the kids who are back at the school that's not working? What about those kids?

DE VOS: Well, in places where there have been -- where there's a lot of choice that's been introduced, Florida, for example, the studies show that when there's a large number of students that opt to go to a different school or different schools, the traditional public schools actually -- the results get better as well.

STAHL: Has that happened in Michigan? Where in Michigan? This is your home state.

DE VOS: Michigan -- well, yes, there's lots of great options and choices for students here.

STAHL: Have the public schools in Michigan gotten better?

DE VOS: I don't know. I can't say overall they have all gotten better.

STAHL: The whole state is not doing well.

DE VOS: Well, there are certainly lots of pockets where the students are doing well --

STAHL: No, but your argument that if you take funds away that the schools will get better is not working in Michigan where you had a huge impact and influence on the system here.

DE VOS: I hesitate to talk about all schools in general because schools are made up of individual students attending them.

STAHL: The public schools here are doing worse than they did.

DE VOS: Michigan schools need to do better. There is no doubt about it.

STAHL: Have you seen the really bad schools? Maybe try to figure out what they're doing?

DE VOST: I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.

STAHL: Maybe you should.

DE VOS: Maybe I should, yes.

Mike Barnicle sounded skeptical and asked conservative writer Noah Rothman what he thought.

"That wasn't a great interview, no. I'm not sure why they let her on camera without the stats at hand she was trying to refer to. She was talking about Florida and referring to an Urban Institute study that suggests college enrollment increased among students who took part in the choice programs, but that was not great for the cause of school choice." he said.

"I have to say, however, that Betsy DeVos is not the impetus for the movement that favors choice in schools. She is the product of a movement that favors choice in schools, that favors flexibility and innovation in the education system and removing the impediments to fungibility on funds for schools and contracts that are mandated by unions that allow -- that freeze teachers from doing what they want to do. So Betsy DeVos should be a better advocate for her cause but the cause will persist with or without her."

No, Noah, Betsy DeVos is not the "product" of a school choice movement. She and her family are not just architects, but major funders of a school choice movement for decades. But I suppose that's close enough for conservative commentary.

Remember, the real impetus for so-called "choice" is the goal of privatizing public education by diverting public education funding to the private sector..

Heidi Przybyla brought some facts into the discussion.

"When the president said on the campaign trail that he would bring the best people in with the most experience, we now have a pretty stark juxtaposition. And I would say to add to what Noah said that part of the challenge for Betsy DeVos is that even though as a campaign and big Republican heavy hitter in Michigan, she and her family put a lot of money into pushing the school choice initiatives in that state in the direction that that state has taken," she said.

"She hasn't been an educator and she hasn't been on the ground as an educator even now when she acknowledged that she hadn't been into these underperforming schools and so she herself is in a pretty tough position there. But you would expect that she would have a lot of data at hand just because Michigan in many ways has been kind of a testing ground, a lab for the school choice and what's happened there, fair or not, because we were starting, for example, in Detroit with some pretty poor performing schools, but those schools are still really underperforming and she should have at least the basic amount of data at her fingertips."

Okay, why wouldn't DeVos have the facts handy when she did this interview? Because she's Betsy DeVos. She goes to the Bahamas every weekend instead of doing her homework. Because she and her family bought a cabinet post, and because they give so much money to the Republican party, no one says no to her.

Add the fact that she works for Trump, and she already knows no one will ever hold her accountable. That's probably why he just named her to head a commission on guns and school safety: because he doesn't want her to actually do anything.

Can you help us out?

For 18 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We are currently migrating to Disqus

On May 14, 2022, we started migrating our comments from Insticator back to Disqus. During this transition period, some posts will have Insticator and some Disqus. For more information on the transition, as well as information regarding old C&L accounts, please see this post.

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.