DeVos takes shot at ‘60 Minutes’ in education speech

DeVos takes shot at ‘60 Minutes’ in education speech
© Greg Nash

Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosDon’t worry (too much) about Kavanaugh changing the Supreme Court Overnight Defense: Fallout from tense NATO summit | Senators push to block ZTE deal in defense bill | Blackwater founder makes new pitch for mercenaries to run Afghan war Blackwater founder makes new pitch for mercenaries to take over Afghan war MORE took a shot at the CBS news program “60 Minutes” on Tuesday, days after she was criticized for struggling to answer basic questions about school performance and education policy during a pointed interview that aired Sunday on the program.

In a keynote address to the National PTA Legislative Conference in Crystal City, Va., DeVos suggested her comments on CBS had been edited to make her look bad.

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“So, now that I have the opportunity to speak unedited, I’m not afraid to call out folks who defend stagnation for what it really is: failure,” she said, criticizing those who are against school choice given that U.S. students are ranked 40th in math, 23rd in reading and 25th in science compared to other countries. 

The Education secretary is a proponent of school choice, which encompasses policies such as letting students attend religious or charter schools with public funding.

DeVos, who did not deviate from her prepared remarks, has been criticized for struggling to explain on “60 Minutes” what happens to the schools and children that are left behind when other students leave for charter or religious schools.

In a series of tweets on Monday, DeVos shared data charts showing stagnant scores in reading and math over the last decade for fourth graders in Michigan, her home state.

On “60 Minutes,” DeVos was asked pointed questions about the state.

“Have the public schools in Michigan gotten better?” correspondent Lesley Stahl asked. 

“I don't know,” DeVos said. “Overall, I — I can't say overall that they have all gotten better.”

DeVos said Tuesday that school choice is highly limited in Michigan but where options do exist, students often do better.

“In Detroit, for example, students who attend charter schools perform twice as well as their traditional public school counterparts on state achievement tests,” she said.

“But that’s still not good enough. Michigan hasn’t embraced further reforms and hasn’t yet offered parents robust choice. As a result, students have suffered.”

DeVos also backed the plan President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff: Surveillance warrant docs show that Nunes memo 'misrepresented and distorted these applications' Chicago detention facility under investigation following allegations of abuse of migrant children Ex-Trump aide: Surveillance warrants are 'complete ignorance' and 'insanity' MORE rolled out on Monday to improve school safety after the deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., last month.

Under the plan, the Department of Justice will partner with state and local law enforcement to provide firearm training for school personnel on a voluntary basis.

“These highly specialized courses prepare school staff to respond to incidents,” DeVos said.

“Programs like this exist in a number of states including Florida, Texas and Ohio. Additionally, we will support the transition of military veterans and retired law enforcement — folks who already know how to respond in a dangerous situation — into new careers in education.” 

The White House also announced the creation of the Federal Commission on School Safety, which DeVos will chair, to study and make recommendations on age restrictions for firearm purchases, best practices for better securing campuses and preventing active shooter incidents and the impact of media coverage of mass shootings.