When asked to state her department's civil rights mission — which is one single sentence — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said she hadn't 'memorized' it.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has a habit of embarrassing herself with her dearth of knowledge about her own department. And she did it again Tuesday when she couldn’t even hazard a guess at her civil rights office’s mission statement.
Even though the mission statement is one single sentence.
At a hearing of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) asked DeVos what should have been a simple question.
“I am concerned about the low performance of your civil rights office,” Fudge said. “Could you please just state for me the mission of your civil rights office?”
“The office of civil rights is committed to protecting the civil rights as determined under the law of this land,” DeVos replied. “And we do so proudly, and with great focus each day.”
“That’s not the mission statement,” Fudge noted. “Do you know what it is?”
Apparently, she does not.
“Perhaps you can share it,” DeVos said. “I have not memorized the mission statement.”
The Department of Education Office of Civil Rights mission statement consists of a single sentence that would fit in a tweet: “The mission of the Office for Civil Rights is to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through vigorous enforcement of civil rights.”
This moment fits right in with DeVos’ pattern of consistent embarrassment, particularly where civil rights are concerned. And her ineptitude and ignorance stand out even amid the disaster that is Trump’s Cabinet.
During her confirmation hearing, DeVos refused to say she would withhold funding from schools that discriminate against LGBTQ children. She also wouldn’t commit to protecting the rights of people who were sexually assaulted on campus. And she demonstrated dangerous ignorance about the rights of disabled children.
As secretary, DeVos has rescinded civil rights protections for disabled students and rape survivors. Further, in an April hearing, she dismissed the systemic racism that even her own department says exists. In fact, DeVos and Trump used the Parkland school shooting as an excuse to attack an Obama-era policy against that systemic racism. And she had nothing to say about Trump’s dangerous plan to arm teachers.
DeVos began her tenure knowing very little about public education or civil rights. It appears she aims to finish it knowing even less.