Betsy DeVos Intentionally Chose Not To Visit Struggling Schools In Michigan

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In a "60 Minutes" interview Sunday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos seemed uncertain how public schools in her home state of MI are faring.

DeVos' "60 Minutes" appearance was widely panned, with CNN contributor Ana Navarro saying she "had not seen a TV interview so cringe-inducing, since Sarah Palin saw Russian Federation from her back yard" and U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., saying that if President Donald Trump wants to "meet someone who has an actual IQ problem", he should look to DeVos. Asked whether public schools in MI have improved, DeVos answered: "I don't know". If you are the secretary of education, you have to know you are going to be asked about the effects of school choice - particularly in your home state. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., sent to DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions on March 5 about the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The damage was done, however, as Democratic lawmakers, journalists, progressives and teachers' unions took to social media to rip Ms. DeVos, calling her uninformed, unqualified - and worse.

Stahl: Okay. But what about the kids who are back at the school that's not working?

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders declined to weigh in on DeVos' performance, saying school safety and other policies are the "focus of the President - not one or two interviews, but actual policy".

Lesley Stahl: Now, has that happened in MI?

In the same way, when Devos was asked about arming teachers, she responded with it "should be an option" for the states and communities.

"Your argument that if you take funds away that the schools will get better is not working in MI".

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"Everything I heard from [DeVos] in our conversation suggested that this is just the latest effort to delay and shift the conversation away from the gun safety reforms that people across the country are demanding", Murray said. Now, she's being tasked with leading a commission on school violence. When Stahl asked whether, as secretary, she'd ever visited a failing school to find out what went wrong, DeVos said, "I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming". "Florida, for example, 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".

See video below for an excerpt dealing specifically with MI schools.

"I don't know. Overall, I - I can't say overall that they have all gotten better", DeVos said, noting that "there are certainly lots of pockets where the students are doing well".

DeVos responded, "Maybe I should".

Under DeVos, the department is championing a change to Title IX that would provide more protections for students accused of sexual assault.

As for the idea that school choice or the presence of charter schools helps public schools perform better, that link is murky or entirely nonexistent. Betsy DeVos: I couldn't believe it when I read it, but you have to admire their candor.

Um, judging by this interview, DeVos is not misunderstood. In response to the question, DeVos told Stahl: "All of these issues or all of this issue comes down to individual kids" and that the issue of institutional racism was being "carefully" studied.

When the Education Department reported on the issue in 2010, it similarly said that "no consensus has been reached on whether competition from charter schools has a positive impact on the academic achievement of students remaining in traditional public schools".