Yesterday, Donald Trump made a proposal on how to deal with school shootings.
On Valentine’s Day, to show his love for the NRA, Nikolas Cruz killed seventeen people at a high school in Parkland, Florida, using an AR-15 assault weapon.
Trump’s Education Secretary, Betsy Dee Prince DeVos, knows almost nothing about public education.
But she’s a big cheese when it comes to charter schools and private schools, and she was (and no doubt still is) a big cheese in the Michigan GOP.
She was Michigan’s Republican National Committeewoman from 1992 to 1997.
The current occupant of the White House received 47.5% of the votes in Michigan, while Hillary Clinton received 47.27%; Clinton lost to Trump by 107,704 votes. Green Party presidential candidate and Spoiler-in-Chief Jill Stein received 51,463 votes. Other minor party presidential candidates, including Natural Law Party presidential candidate Emilio Soltysk, received 26,525.
Trump’s first choice to be his Education Secretary was none other than Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, the largest Christian university in America. It’s evangelical and it has 15,000 students on campus with 110,000 students including online students.
Former conservative Indiana talk show host Mike Pence had to break a 50-50 tie in the Senate to get DeVos confirmed (first time that’s ever happened).
Evangelicalism doesn’t really have much to do with Christianity. If Jesus were to visit Liberty University, he would run, not walk, to the nearest Presbyterian Church USA, or maybe even a Unitarian Universalist church.
For reasons unclear to any sensible person, Trump managed to collar the evangelical vote, even though he is a notorious womanizer; has been married to three trophy wives; was a star of the Hollywood Access video; and thinks more with his gonads than with whatever is under that thing on top of his head.
DeVos is married to Dick DeVos, the former CEO of Amway. Her brother, Erik Prince, founded Blackwater USA (now known by the improbable name of “Academi"). Blackwater employees successfully killed fourteen Iraqi civilians in 2007. The Iraqi government didn’t like that, so it refused to extend Blackwater’s license in 2009.
The DeVos family is listed by Forbes as the 88th richest family in America, with an estimated net worth of $5.4 billion.
Trump said, after losing the popular vote to HRC, that he wanted the members of his Cabinet to be billionaires like him.
While in Michigan, DeVos campaigned vigorously for charter schools.
After the most recent (of many) school shootings, in Parkland, Florida, DeVos visited the school where the shooting occurred.
When she was interviewed on 60 Minutes (shown yesterday), by Lesley Stahl, DeVos said she didn’t know whether the public schools in Michigan improved following the school choice policies which she pushed there. “I can’t say overall that they have all gotten better.”
Asked whether she had visited poor-performing schools in Michigan, DeVos said “I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming… [but] maybe I should."
DeVos’ comments on 60 minutes were reported by Politico’s Kimberly Hefling and Michael Stratford (https://www.politico.com/story/2018/03/11/devos-schools-violence-task-force-454720).
Given that Trump thinks it’s a really swell idea to arm teachers in schools, DeVos told Stahl that she believes that arming teachers “should be an option for states and communities to consider” though she said she “couldn’t ever imagine” her own first-grade teacher being armed in the classroom.
So we sent associate solitary reporter John Hooper, our education expert, to interview DeVos as to the reasonableness of Trump’s proposal, which he made yesterday, in response to the Parkland shooting.
“Go away, John,” she said. “I know where you live. You live in the most liberal precinct in Denver, and Denver consists mostly of Democrats.”
“So I won’t listen to the first thing you say.”