Mar 13, 2018, 7:36 PM ET

Amid backlash, DeVos defends school choice


In the wake of controversial comments during a recent television appearance, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos sought Tuesday to further clarify her stance on school choice.

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In an interview aired Sunday on CBS's 60 Minutes, DeVos struggled to explain how diverting money from underperforming schools to fund charter schools improved public education in her home state of Michigan.

Asked if the public schools in Michigan performed better after she advocated for school choice there, DeVos answered, "I can't say overall that they have all gotten better... I hesitate to talk about all schools in general because schools are made up of individual students."

In a tweet Monday, she noted that Michigan's 4th grade math and reading test scores have fallen below the national average. Incredulous critics have questioned how the data supports her argument that school choice boost performance.

But Tuesday, she suggested the scores have fallen because "Michigan hasn't embraced further reforms and hasn't yet offered parents robust choice."

"States surrounding Michigan offer parents more choices and see improving student achievement," she argued at a National PTA conference in Arlington, Virginia. "There are some who say that choice takes money away from school buildings, from school systems. But money doesn’t belong to buildings or systems. Taxpayer money belongs to you."

In the same conference, she also alluded to arming teachers, something she's grappled with since suggesting schools have "the option and the opportunity" to do so in the wake of the Parkland shooting four weeks ago.

"We must improve physical security at our schools. This includes assisting states to train specially qualified school personnel on a voluntary basis," Devos said. "These highly specialized courses prepare school staff to respond to incidents."

News - Amid backlash, DeVos defends school choice

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  • Curmudgathrope

    DeVos is and remains one of the highest orders of failure of appointees by trump so far. she has had some amazing competition to be the worst, but she sure is holding her own rather nicely.

  • concernedvoter

    So she hasn't even gone to any under performing schools because its not something she has time for??? Will someone tell this Billionaire Airhead that she's responsible for all Schools not just her pet project schools..

  • concernedvoter


  • Pologize3

    "I hesitate to talk about all schools in general because schools are made up of individual students."

    Yet, she'll compare private schools to public schools as if they are on the same playing field. Private schools often kick out difficult students and they end up back at their assigned public school.

  • TomK

    The worst part about public schools is they clump students with varying abilities in the same classes and then set one pace. Consequently the pace is right for some students, some are bored and lose interest while others are struggling to keep up. There is another set of students that are disruptive. If public schools are to remain relevant they will need to determine how best to fulfill the needs of these students with varying abilities and somehow isolate those who wish to disrupt. Creating separate classes for achievers, non-disrupters and disrupters sounds like a reasonable solution but can't really see that happening.

  • Tralfaz Gottrockets

    This issue is more complicated than either side will admit. Parenting is a bigger issue here than money. I want my kids to go to school with other kids whose parents really want to see them educated. I had to move to a new district in order to get that. If I couldn't have afforded to move, then I'd want to have the options provided by vouchers. On the other hand, this means writing off the kids with bad parents. That's awful, but my first responsibility is to my own kids.

  • thinkmore

    "School choice" is another scam that will handicap poor students and help the wealthy. More fuel for the oligarchy.

    The USA can only be great if it provides the best possible education for all its citizens.

    DeVos (and Trump) must go.

  • Betty Bloop

    someone forgot to remind trump that, back in the halcyon days when america was 'great', we had strong and vibrant public schools

  • pksk531

    Remember, she never attended public school. Her children have never attended public schools. She has NO CLUE about the teachers, the students, or the system

  • Pologize3

    Charter schools perform just as inconsistently as public schools. Some are great and some are terrible. They also don't have the same rules and regulations as public schools and it is much easier for charter schools to expel/kick out students who are discipline issues. Public schools have to teach everyone on their roster no matter what. So, comparing the two isn't fair to begin with.

  • Flint Covey

    The schools she champions in MI actually perform worse than their public counterparts.

  • Bear

    Once again she has proven herself to be incompetent and unable to grasp the simplest of questions posed to her. Am I the only one who thought they had put vaseline on the lens to make her appear younger?

  • Loue Whose

    being forced to teach in two or three languages would improve schools

  • Fermer Votre Bouche

    Parents should be ashamed of the mess that Trump is leaving in his wake for their children to clean up.

  • Paulie

    This woman would have to work terribly hard to become any less competent than she is now.

  • USAF Retired

    How does "diverting money from underperforming schools to fund charter schools" improve overall education? It may help the charter school, but what about the schools where money is diverted from?

  • Jrducky

    I am so glad that my kids are all graduated and I don’t have to deal with this.
    My heart goes out to the parents who do.

  • FfloydZzepp

    Betsy DeVoid


    Another dippy airhead bleach blonde sale person, with the intellect of a tumbleweed...I think she might benefit a lot by enrolling in kindergarten and retaking elementary school again...I think they just pushed her through....

  • Nearl45 5

    DeVos has to go.

  • inorganicmolecule

    Handing over taxpayer money to for-profit schools is wrong - PERIOD. If you want to send your little darling to a private or "charter" school, then YOU pay for it, bright eyes. Public money should go to public schools.
    DeVos is scum.

  • harveyyaz

    DeVos is just pursuing the Trump agenda of dismantling public education in favor of a for-profit, politically-driven system. What's most pathetic is when China and the EU overtake the US in science, technology, and innovation, Trump supporters will blame Democrats.

  • JDC1

    As partisan as this has become, Rahm Emanuel has been doing charter/magnet schools for 5 years in Chicago. Where is the data on cities that have been doing this?

  • NoCandy4U

    Real talk: Unskilled parents want to be friends with their children, who manipulate their parents' "school choice." Charter Schools, on-line and brick and mortar, know how to reach these families. Oh, and 'tweens know how to get meds and IEP's, too. Betsy and her friends have an investment to reap profits from your tax dollars.

  • Center_Line

    DeVos married the CEO of Amway.Her father was founder of whatever and they are some of the wealthiest in America.
    She donated a large sum of money to Trumps campaign.Thus she has done nothing but be born into money.Married into more money.As far as her achievments?A big ZERO.Dumb as rocks.

  • Eteamer

    It's up to the parents to make sure your kid gets a good education. My son is graduating this year with honors from the High School STEM program. It's cost me a lot. And, it is only going to cost more. So much for that new Corvette.

  • Eteamer

    Anything to get public funding of private Christian schools.

  • Center_Line

    After her horrible performance on 60 minutes,she actually had to frantically do damage control.She actually thought
    a secretary was well....a secretary.

  • Jack25

    Like most of Trump’s appointees, she’s an idiot. But it’s OK, he’ll fire her soon.

  • cephalo

    School choice is a myth for some. We all pay for it when a parent can't handle the education of their child, so let's pay a little less and handle that for them. Parents who don't care about education are that way precisely because they were not educated. School choice will not improve our scores. How could it?

  • Colinalcarz

    Parents with a laptop can educate their children at home via the many online home school distance learning programs available and do at least as good a job as most public schools and be safer in the process.

  • ted marks

    5 million dollars buys you a Cabinet Position. I'm 65 years of age. I can read, write, spell, and do math in my head. I have public School Teachers to thank for that.
    3x +3 = 39
    - the 3 from 39 = 36
    3 divided into 36 = 12
    X = 12
    Can you you this in your head Secretary Secretary Betsy DeVos. I didn't think so.

  • carcar

    Clearly a product of her private school education.