A Lighter Take | Debra A. Klein

Betsy DeVos didn’t do her homework

CORAL SPRINGS, FL - MARCH 07: U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks to the news during a press conference held at the Heron Bay Marriott about her visit to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on March 7, 2018 in Coral Springs, Florida. DeVos was visiting the high school following the February 14 shooting that killed 17 people. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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Betsy DeVos.

Betsy DeVos clearly didn’t do her homework.

When Lesley Stahl asked her basic questions about public schools and success rates of schools in her home state on “60 Minutes,” a program known for, you know, asking tough questions, she was caught. It was hardly a legendary “gotcha” moment. DeVos could probably reasonably assume that she might have to field a question or two about US education since she is, after all, the secretary of education. Yet, she answered like so many members of Trump’s inner circle do, as though trying to usher the conversation along to a more pleasant topic while chatting at the club. It turns out “60 Minutes” left a lot on the cutting room floor:

Stahl: “I’m just curious. Have you been in a public school? You know, have you actually seen a public school?”


DeVos: “Well, of course I have.”

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Stahl: “Tell us about that?”

DeVos: “Well, a school. Sure. It’s, you know, a building, in, you know, downtown whatever. I mean it’s more than a building, there are parking spaces outside in a paved lot. The valet parker stand is at the front door and . . . ”

Stahl: “Valet parker?”

DeVos: “There aren’t . . . ? Oh, of course not! Students can’t drive themselves. Okay, so you walk in and the main place where the students go, you check in with the hostess and see if your classroom is ready or they may still be getting things cleaned up. So you can have a cocktail at the bar.”


Stahl: “You seem to be describing The Palm, or really any power lunch spot, not a school.”

DeVos: “Do I?”

Stahl: “Have you been to a school? Any school?”

DeVos: “Of course! There are students and I saw pencils and those large flat screens that never seem to be on at the front of the room where the, um, what do you call them?”

Stahl: “Teachers? Blackboards?”


DeVos: “Yes! In fact, I was in a wonderful classsroom and one of those. . . teachers, did you call them? He was this very eccentric fellow, with a beard and glasses, I think, and a twinkle in his eye and he had the students stand on desks and recite poetry . . . .”

Stahl: “Excuse me, but that’s ‘Dead Poet’s Society.’ A movie.”

DeVos: “Well, it’s a school experience. And there was another school, a public school and the kids were going crazy, dancing on cars, causing mayhem in the streets. That’s why I want to defund them.”

Stahl: “Aren’t you describing the scene from ‘Fame’?”

DeVos: “Am I? I’m smiling though, right? That’s very important that I be smiling. I have fabulous teeth. Not even one root canal! See?”

Stahl: “So you really haven’t been to any school at all, ever?”

DeVos: “I have not, no, technically, when you say ‘visit,’ as in going there physically I have not, no, um, well, maybe I should.”

Stahl: “Maybe you should.”

Debra A. Klein is a writer. Follow her on Twitter @IWishIHadTyped.