March 24, 2018

White House to help arm school staff

14 March 2018, 06:13 | Kara Nash

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DeVos There is an ‘urgency’ in solving gun violence

It's why she recently tweeted a Shutterstock photo to make a false claim that, "Everything about our lives has moved beyond the industrial era". And one year later, DeVos still has no idea what she's talking about, if last night's sit-down with 60 Minutes is any indication. DeVos said she has "not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming" but acknowledged that maybe she should. So, the very next day, Trump decided that De Vos would be the ideal choice to lead a blue ribbon committee on school safety based on her enormous experience and popularity.

The interview came as the White House announced that DeVos would lead a commission to examine ways of protecting schools and students from gun violence in the wake of the February 14 shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla. The White House said it was setting up the Federal Commission on School Safety and would begin helping states to provide "rigorous firearms training" to some teachers to help prevent or stop campus shootings.

But the day after the piece aired, DeVos took to Twitter to criticize the news show, saying important facts pertaining to Michigan's academic performance weren't included and information her department shared with the network was left out. DeVos' admitted ignorance is particularly surprising, as she and her family have given millions of dollars to school choice efforts in MI.

Stahl mentioned MI schools' poor performance, something a University of MI study appeared to confirm previous year.

DeVos said the United States has comparatively stagnated with test scores, pivoting again to school choice as the solution. In a sick irony, some on the right would use the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida - allegedly committed by a young man who carved swastikas into the magazines for his semi-automatic rifle - as a pretext to roll back civil rights protections for students of color. In response, DeVos said that she gives "a lot of credit to the students there for really raising their voices". "There's some fairly good empirical evidence that says minority students are more likely than white students in similar situations to be written up and disciplined", said Michael Hansen, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who studies education policy.

In the same way, when Devos was asked about arming teachers, she responded with it "should be an option" for the states and communities.

Of course, DeVos knows that Michigan's not doing well.

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DEVOS: "I hesitate to talk about all schools in general because schools are made up of individual students attending them". But DeVos stumbled when Stahl asked her whether the same was true in MI.

But Stahl suggested charter schools can also hurt traditional public schools by taking away their resources. "There is no doubt about it". Where you had a huge impact and influence over the direction of the school system here.

Stahl: The public schools here are doing worse than they did.

Those were the questions Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) directed to Betsy DeVos during her January 2017 confirmation hearing, in front of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP).

"Maybe I should", DeVos said.

The tense exchange led the Trump Cabinet official to concede that perhaps she should actually visit the struggling schools that school choice programs divert funds away from in favor of giving some students access to private education.

In a tweet Monday, she noted that Michigan's 4th grade math and reading test scores have fallen below the national average.

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