Tag Archives: Betsy DeVos

Imagine your teacher with a gun

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said a lot with which I disagree during that ghastly “60 Minutes” interview Sunday night.

However, she did offer a bit of wisdom that connected with me.

“60 Minutes” correspondent Leslie Stahl asked her about “arming teachers” to prevent school violence. DeVos said it’s an option that should be “looked at.” DeVos then said she couldn’t imagine her first-grade teacher being armed. It might be OK to put guns in the hands of other educators, but she has trouble wrapping her head around her own teacher packing heat.

Holy cow! I thought immediately of my own first-grade teacher at Harvey W. Scott Elementary School in Portland, Ore.

Her name was Bonnie Orth. As I picture her today in my mind’s eye, I recall thinking then, in 1955, that she reminded me of my paternal grandmother, Katina Kanelis. Grandma was 59 years of age during my first-grade year of school. I also get that as a 6-year-old, everyone older than, say, 18 seemed to be ancient, which means that Mrs. Orth likely wasn’t nearly as old as she seemed at the time.

I attended that elementary school until midway through the seventh grade, when my parents moved us to the suburbs in 1962. I’m trying to imagine any of my teachers — Mrs. Orth, Mrs. Grubb, Miss Howard, Miss Elfring, Miss Heisler, Mr. Hendrickson or Mr. McGraw — pulling a pistol out of his or her desk in the event of a shootout at school; now that I think a bit about it, maybe Mr. McGraw — bless him — could do it … maybe.

This debate, though, isn’t about whether our own teachers could draw down on a shooter. It’s about the wisdom of adding more guns to our educational environment with the aim of making it a safer place to send our children.

That is what frightens me.

DeVos offers proof of why she is unfit for her job

It’s no wonder at all that Betsy DeVos needed a historic vice-presidential vote in the U.S. Senate to get her confirmed as the secretary of education.

You want evidence of it? Check out the “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday night.

DeVos’s confirmation in 2017 ended with a 50-50 tie in the Senate; Vice President Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to confirm her nomination by Donald John Trump.

Oh, brother, she stumbled and bumbled her way through the interview with CBS News correspondent Leslie Stahl.

She actually acknowledged that she hasn’t visited “underperforming schools” to see for herself why they are in such bad shape. “Maybe I should,” DeVos told Stahl.

Uhh, yeah, do ya think?

I should note that DeVos is a champion for school choice. She also has no personal exposure to public education. She was educated in private schools; her children attend private schools; she can afford — as a billionaire — to send her children and grandchildren to any school they want.

This is the person the president chose to administer our public education system? Give me a break.

As the Washington Post reported: The secretary also said she is “not so sure exactly” how she became, as Stahl described her, “the most hated” member of President Trump’s Cabinet but believes that she is “misunderstood.”

I am not among those who hates DeVos. I am deeply concerned that this individual who has zero knowledge or experience relating to public education has been put in charge of the agency that is supposed to advocate on behalf of public schools, students and teachers.

DeVos has called “traditional public education” a “dead end.” How does that engender confidence in the secretary of public education? It doesn’t. Not in the least.

I encourage you to take a look at the exchange between Stahl and DeVos contained in the link that follows. Check it out here.

Yep, this is one of the “best people” Donald Trump pledged to populate his presidential administration.


Educator has it right: Come visit us, Mme. Education Secretary

I want to give a full-throated cheer to a former colleague of mine who has gone on to do some great work in public education classrooms.

Shanna Peeples, who was named 2015 National Teacher of the Year, these days works in the administration of the Amarillo Independent School District. Until this school year, she taught English at Palo Duro High School. She was named National Teacher of the Year and was feted in a White House ceremony hosted by President Barack Obama. We worked for a time together many years ago for the same newspaper, the Amarillo Globe-News.

What has Peeples done to earn praise from yours truly? She has invited the current education secretary, Betsy DeVos, to visit Amarillo. Come see what’s going on here, Shanna has told DeVos.

Lord knows the education secretary could use some on-site experience visiting public schools, talking to educators who work for public school districts and to public school students.

Peeples made her invitation known on social media. She has said she’ll bring the “coffee and donuts” to a meeting with Secretary DeVos.

I want to join the one-time National Teacher of the Year in inviting DeVos to Amarillo.

Look at it this way, Mme. Secretary: Amarillo sits in the middle of the Texas Panhandle, which voted overwhelmingly for the guy who nominated you, Donald J. Trump. This is ostensibly friendly territory. Amarillo ain’t Berkeley, if you get my drift.

DeVos, though, has zero experience with public education. Not as a student, or the mother of students. She ought to come here and take a look at the work being done by those who work for the very public to which the secretary also answers.

Nice going, Shanna. I hope the secretary accepts your invitation.

DeVos gets a job for which she is unqualified

Betsy DeVos is going to assume her new job in the federal government with one of two outlooks.

The first one suggests that with a 50-50 vote in the U.S. Senate to confirm her — and with the vice president of the United States casting the tie-breaking vote — DeVos is assuming the education secretary job with virtually no mandate to do anything.

Half the Senate opposes her. The president who nominated her got nearly 3 million fewer votes than his 2016 election opponent — while winning enough electoral votes to become president. The vice president cast the first in history tie-breaking vote to confirm a Cabinet nominee.

Mandate, shmandate!

Or, she’ll thumb her nose at those of us who opposed her confirmation and say, “Hey, winning by an inch is as good as winning by a country mile.  So … get over it!”

I suspect she’ll adopt the latter point of view.

Senate Democrats gave it their best shot, trying to talk for 24 hours straight on the Senate floor seeking to persuade one more Republican to follow the lead of GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, who voted against DeVos’s nomination.

Betsy DeVos has zero qualifications to lead the nation’s public education system.

She gave a lot of money to Republican politicians, which I guess is qualification enough.

Sad, man. Sad.

Betsy DeVos for ed secretary? No way!

I know it’s still a long shot, but I am going to implore the U.S. Senate to “just say ‘no'” to “Billionaire Betsy” DeVos as the next secretary of education.

Just as I believe Donald J. Trump is still unfit for the presidency, he has chosen an equally unfit individual to lead the nation’s public education program.

I emphasize the word “public” for what I believe is a valid reason.

DeVos has zero direct exposure to public education.

She was educated in private schools. Her children have attended private schools. DeVos has talked openly about creating a voucher program for parents, allowing public tax money to subsidize the private education of their children.

Her Senate committee confirmation hearing revealed DeVos’s utter ignorance of public education policy. She believes we should arm teachers with firearms to supposedly deter gun violence in schools.

The president can do far better than to nominate someone other than DeVos, whose only “qualification” has been the large amounts of money she has raised for Republican politicians — including the president himself.

Two Senate Republicans — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine — have said they won’t vote for DeVos. That puts the count at 50-50, assuming all Democrats and the two independents who caucus with them, vote against DeVos.

Will there be another Republican senator with a conscience who’ll realize that the president has made a mistake in nominating this know-nothing to run the Education Department.

I am hoping one can emerge.

Then the president can look for someone who knows something about the agency he or she would lead.

Trump team staggers toward starting line

It’s not going well for Team Trump as it prepares to take command of the most powerful, greatest nation on Earth.

Seemingly across the board, Donald Trump’s Cabinet selections are having difficulty squaring their records with what will be expected of them when — or if — they take some highly visible public offices.

Betsy DeVos,  the president-elect’s choice to become education secretary, seemed flummoxed about questions pertaining to basic education policy.

Health and Human Services pick U.S. Rep. Tom Price is facing scrutiny over legislation he pitched that favored a company in which he had just purchased stock.

Ben Carson, the noted brain surgeon who has been nominated to lead the housing department, is having to explain why his spokesman said the good doctor is unqualified for the job.

Andrew Puzder, the labor secretary-designate (pictured with Trump), reportedly is having second thoughts about even taking the job. Oh, and he’s got a messy divorce settlement hanging over him, too.

Scott Pruitt, picked to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, told a Senate committee that his views on whether human beings are responsible for climate change aren’t relevant.

And on and on we go.

It’s not all bad. The Senate Armed Services Committee has recommended confirmation for Defense Secretary-designate James Mattis — after he seemed to contradict Trump’s views about the threat posed by Russia.

I get that sometimes these high-level Cabinet picks go awry. Do you remember when two of President-elect Bill Clinton’s picks for attorney general had to bow out because they had employed illegal immigrants?

But that’s OK. Donald Trump assured us he would pick the “smartest people, the best people” to run the government while he concentrates on making America “great again.”