Betsy DeVos Struggles To Answer Simple Questions In '60 Minutes' Interview

She has proposed massive cuts in public education funding, and wants to shift billions to private, parochial and charter schools.

The secretary of education - arguably the most controversial member of President Donald Trump's Cabinet - on Sunday evening sat down for an interview with 60 Minutes, during which she struggled to answer basic questions about the condition of her home state's public schools, why she is considering rolling back Obama-era guidelines to prevent discriminatory discipline, and whether the number of false accusations of sexual assault on campus is lower than the number of actual rapes or assaults.

"I don't know", DeVos said in the interview, which aired Sunday.

'I don't know. Overall, I, I can't say overall that they have all gotten better, ' DeVos responded.

The sit-down with correspondent Lesley Stahl, just days after DeVos drew students' scorn for a baffling visit to Stoneman Douglas High School, featured several moments where DeVos appeared unfamiliar with critical education policy issues and wholly unprepared to defend the Trump administration's aggressive push for for-profit schools. "There is no doubt about it". "I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming", she said.

Studies have found poor performance, particularly in Detroit. DeVos often seemed at a loss for words as Stahl probed numerous most controversial points in her brief career as secretary: her faux pas about historically black colleges; the rollback of transgender student protections and Title IX sexual assault regulations on campuses and efforts to reduce racial disparities in school discipline.

During that time, the state's rankings with the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which tracks students' knowledge and abilities, have continued to plummet.

Michigan, for instance, ranked 41st in the nation in fourth-grade reading in 2015, according to the latest NAEP results.

Jacobs told the Detroit News there were a number reasons why MI seems to have test anxiety, particularly the local control over schools.

But DeVos, a West Michigan native and billionaire philanthropist, faced tough questioning from Stahl about how choice has impacted students in traditional public schools, which are left with fewer dollars and resources when children leave to go elsewhere.

Another factor, he added, was the poor financial situation in Detroit, which in 2013 had the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in USA history.

Later, Guthrie grilled DeVos on Trump's harebrained proposal of arming teachers, which is included in his school safety proposal, however the education secretary didn't have much in the way of details.

Charter schools don't seem to be faring well, themselves.

Most of the reading and math scores among students at charter schools in MI are below average and overall academic progress lags behind other states.

DeVos, a former Republican Party chairwoman in MI, has been active in school reform efforts in the state for decades.

That's the start of a hard pivot, where suddenly DeVos claims that we can't make any broad statements about schools at all because they're made up of individuals, right after claiming that all public schools do better when they're stripped of funds and students choose to leave them.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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