6) Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord on June 1, and DeVos issued a statement applauding the move. When reporters asked her a few days later about her views on climate change, she responded:
“Certainly, the climate changes. Yes.”
Not only was that an example of her refusal to directly answer many questions, but it also suggested the U.S. education secretary supports Trump’s view that human-caused climate change is not real – despite overwhelming scientific evidence that it is.
7) During her interview with Stahl on “60 Minutes,” DeVos acknowledged she had never “intentionally” visited a low-performing traditional public school, and she made this unusual statement: “I hesitate to talk about all schools in general because schools are made up of individual students attending them.”
Here’s part of the conversation about what happens to underperforming traditional public schools when children leave for alternatives and take funding with them:
STAHL: “Why take away money from that school that’s not working – to bring them up to a level where they are, that school is working?”
DEVOS: “Well, we should be funding and investing in students, not in school, school buildings, not in institutions, not in systems.”
STAHL: “Okay. But what about the kids who are back at the school that’s not working? What about those kids?”
DEVOS: “Well, in places where there have been, where there is, a lot of choice that’s been introduced, Florida, for example, the studies show that when there’s a large number of students that opt to go to a different school or different schools, the traditional public schools actually, the results get better, as well.”
STAHL: “Now, has that happened in Michigan? We’re in Michigan. This is your home state.”
DEVOS: “Yes, well, there’s lots of great options and choices for students here.”
STAHL: “Have the public schools in Michigan gotten better?”
DEVOS: “I don’t know. Overall, I, I can’t say overall that they have all gotten better.”
STAHL: “The whole state is not doing well.”
DEVOS: “Well, there are certainly lots of pockets where this, the students are doing well and . . .”
STAHL: “No, but your argument that if you take funds away that the schools will get better is not working in Michigan, where you had a huge impact and influence over the direction of the school system here.”
DEVOS: “I hesitate to talk about all schools in general because schools are made up of individual students attending them.”
STAHL: “The public schools here are doing worse than they did.”
DEVOS: “Michigan schools need to do better. There is no doubt about it.”
STAHL: “Have you seen the really bad schools? Maybe try to figure out what they’re doing?”
DEVOS: “I have not, I have not, I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.”
STAHL: “Maybe you should.”
DEVOS: “Maybe I should. Yes.”
8) At her 2017 confirmation hearing before the Senate panel, DeVos seemed not to understand the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, known as IDEA, which requires public schools to provide free and appropriate education to all students with disabilities.
DeVos said states should have the right to decide whether to enforce IDEA. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., told her that IDEA is a federal civil rights law and asked DeVos if she stood by her statement that it was up to the states to follow it.
HASSAN: “Do you stand by your statement a few minutes ago that [IDEA] should be up to the states whether to follow it?”
DEVOS: “Federal law must be followed where federal dollars are in play.”
HASSAN: “So were you unaware, when I just asked you about the IDEA, that it was a federal law?”
DEVOS: “I may have confused it.”
She did confuse it in a most fundamental way.
9) In 2017, DeVos rescinded Obama-era Title IX guidelines on how schools should handle sexual assault allegations. Saying that too many men were falsely accused, she set new rules making it harder for accusers to prove their accusations. During a Sept. 7 speech on the subject, she said:
“Survivors, victims of a lack of due process, and campus administrators have all told me that the current approach does a disservice to everyone involved.”
Actually, survivors had pleaded with her not to change the rules, saying the Obama regulations gave them a voice they did not previously have. Many were furious at her decision.