The unappreciated genius of Betsy DeVos

The unappreciated genius of Betsy DeVos

The unappreciated genius of Betsy DeVos

Has she visited bad schools? "Your children did not either, correct?" Her family's investments have included K12 Inc., a for-profit virtual school company. Most of her career entailed fighting for the federal government to loosen its grip on public education in MI.

While some knocked DeVos' knowledge of the issue, the polarizing interview prompted the question of whether charter schools help or hurt neighboring public schools' academic performance. She added during the interview that arming teachers should be a decision left to states. Yes, the raw video might be kinder than the edited version, but Stahl is in her third decade with "60 Minutes" and has always been regarded as an incisive interviewer.

STAHL: The whole state is not doing well.

But this unabashed ignorance is DeVos' hidden genius - and precisely why she is a ideal choice to be Trump's secretary of education.

Lesley Stahl: Okay. But what about the kids who are back at the school that's not working? We understand that DeVos believes that Historically Black Colleges and Universities "were real pioneers when it comes to school choice".

The Washington Post has a video highlighting four areas where DeVos appeared to struggle with her answers, including on campus sexual assault.

Now, critics ask, how can we expect a wealthy school-choice advocate to represent the interests of all students - particularly those who rely on public education - when she hasn't visited the schools that are most in need of assistance from Washington?

Lesley Stahl: No, but your argument that if you take funds away that the schools will get better, is not working in MI where you had a huge impact and influence over the direction of the school system here.

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"[DeVos] absolutely doesn't know a thing about public education or educational policy or what good teaching is or what curriculum is... it's a travesty and yet it fits perfectly in with the Trump administration where you put somebody who wants to destroy the environment in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency".

While DeVos maintained that addressing gun violence in schools is an urgent matter, noting that she's heading up a task force to observe what states are doing to protect students, Stahl balked, saying "this sounds like talking instead of acting".

"Maybe you should", said Stahl. The announcement did not include any federal gun law proposals, but established a panel to assess best practices for improving school safety. It's worth noting that during DeVos's confirmation hearing before the Senate education committee in January 2017, she said, "I believe there is a lot that has gone right in Detroit and MI with regard to charter schools." Sen.

However others were less than impressed with Stahl's interview style.

Throughout Sunday, March 11, and Monday, March 12, DeVos took to Twitter to address some of the harshest takes on her 60 Minutes interview. As education secretary, she has pushed for deep cuts in the federal education budget while urging large expenditures on school choice programs.

The political response to DeVos's interview has been swift and fierce, as well, with Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) tweeting that DeVos is "clearly unqualified".

Their structure can vary by state and can focus on particular subjects - like science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) - and can even reside in the same building as a traditional public school. CNN reported that White House officials watched DeVos's 60 Minutes appearance and follow-up Monday interview "with dismay".

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