Betsy DeVos tried to do damage control after her embarrassing interview. But it only made her look more incompetent.
A day after embarrassing herself during a disastrous 60 Minutes interview, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos took to Twitter to try to clean up the damage. But she did so by attempting to shift the blame to everyone else.
In addition to pointing the finger at educators, DeVos also tried to blame 60 Minutes for not showing figures on school performance she says were provided to the show.
“Here’s what we shared with ’60 Minutes,’ which of course they didn’t show you: Michigan, like much of the nation, isn’t doing well enough to prepare students,” DeVos tweeted Monday afternoon. “Scores are stagnant. Students need more options, and we must rethink our approach to education.”
The data in DeVos’ tweet shows scores on math and reading tests in Michigan compared to the nationwide average. And it demonstrates exactly what she was pressed on during the interview. Michigan, where DeVos has spent nearly two decades pushing policies that prioritize for-profit charter schools over traditional public schools, underperforms compared to other states.
The charts DeVos posted also show that the performance of Michigan schools has been consistently declining for about a decade. And that’s precisely the time period during which the policies DeVos championed took effect.
As Politico explained just before DeVos was confirmed as Education Secretary, “Despite two decades of charter-school growth, the state’s overall academic progress has failed to keep pace with other states: Michigan ranks near the bottom for fourth- and eighth-grade math and fourth-grade reading on a nationally representative test, nicknamed the ‘Nation’s Report Card.'”
“Notably,” Politico reported, “the state’s charter schools scored worse on that test than their traditional public-school counterparts, according to an analysis of federal data.”
It’s certainly true that many schools in the U.S. are underperforming. But blaming schools for not “doing well enough to prepare students” is a reflection of DeVos’ ignorance about the causes of and solutions to the achievement gaps in our nation’s education system.
If offering “more options” were the solution, then Michigan — ground zero for DeVos’ so-called “school choice” experiment — would not be underperforming and falling behind.
The reality of “school choice” is that it takes money away from traditional public schools and diverts it to for-profit schools that operate with little to no accountability. This may leave parents with plenty of options — but few quality schools to choose from.
And when local school districts have tried to impose regulations to mandate accountability in charter schools, DeVos and her family spent millions opposing the efforts.
DeVos isn’t interested in “school choice.” She’s interested in eradicating public education as we know it. She even said so herself, calling public schools a “dead end.”
When public schools are underfunded, blame for their poor performance does not lie with the schools, educators, or students. It falls squarely on the shoulders of the person responsible for allocating funds where they are needed.
And that person is none other than Betsy DeVos.