Betsy DeVos Stupid Again
It feels like it's been a whole month since we last discussed how much Betsy DeVos sucks. The education secretary with no practical education experience testified before a House Appropriations subcommittee Thursday, and she was just in a foul mood. DeVos is probably testy because every Democratic candidate, regardless of ideology, has declared they'll fire her ass on day one. Amy Klobuchar even said she'd do it within the first 100 seconds of her presidency.
Rep. Mark Pocan from Wisconsin got under DeVos's skin when he grilled her about charter schools, which DeVos loves more than all 17 of her yachts. He quoted her data that shows charter schools are for crap, and she got all Dr. Evil about it. She literally used air quotes when saying the word "question."
DEVOS: Everything you're citing is debunked, ridiculous, so I don't accept the premise of your "question."
Pocan correctly pointed out that the report he cited was not "debunked." The facts stand that the US government wasted $1 billion on charter schools "that never opened, or opened and then closed because of mismanagement and other reasons." Worse, the Education Department doesn't effectively monitor how the money is spent. Another report showed that the state with the most charter schools that simply never materialize (like The Music Man's band equipment) was Michigan, where DeVos stores her yachts and McMansion. The key data in the report came from DeVos herself (though we presume she never read the information personally).
When Pocan reminded DeVos that her family runs a charter school, she looked like she was going to cut him. She snapped "No!" when he asked her to confirm, and she probably should've said yes.
POCAN: Your husband doesn't have a charter program?
DEVOS: He founded a charter school.
Showed him! However, the question was about DeVos's clear bias in favor of charters, and she was boasting about her husband's charter during her tenure as education secretary. Pocan asked her point blank if this posed a conflict of interest, and she disputed that charge with a tedious testimonial about the glory of charter schools.
POCAN: When you look at the terrible rating of charter schools ... they're not performing academically ... 40 percent are closing down that you're giving grants to.
DEVOS: That is not true! That has been a totally debunked report. It was nothing but propaganda by an individual who has an in for charter schools.
POCAN: So what percent of charter schools are failing?
Girlfriend did a literal jump take at this point. This is a congressional hearing, lady, not a slasher film. She had no answer for Pocan because she is stupid and incompetent and a blight on the education system.
POCAN: Do you have an idea? A number?
DEVOS: I don't have a state – national ...
POCAN: You're the secretary of education!
Don't remind us, dude. DeVos challenged Pocan's expectation that she should possess rudimentary knowledge of her field. She snapped back that she works for the federal government and can't be bothered with what states do. That's some small-government incompetence for you!
DEVOS: Charter schools are chartered by states, they are not chartered by the federal government.
She was so proud of herself for making that very smart argument, but she ignored the fact -- probably because she doesn't know it -- that the federal government either partly or entirely funds 40.5 percent of charter schools.
POCAN: You know that number's not right but you don't have a correct number.
DEVOS: What I know is parents and families are choosing to send their children to charter schools.
That's not an argument in favor of charter schools. It's an argument that charter schools are possibly screwing over millions of children. McDonald's serves billions of people, but not even Donald Trump's former White House physician would offer that fact as evidence for a regular diet of Big Macs.
POCAN: So you don't know the answer?
DEVOS: Parents and children are going to charter schools by choice
And what a choice it is, thanks to the DeVos family's assault on public education. Charter schools make up an "outsized share of the number of public schools" and less than half of their students graduate.
Betsy Devos has consistently been the absolute worst member of Donald Trump's Cabinet. That's an unparalleled achievement in both corruption and stupidity.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).