On Twitter the thing I probably write most often is “Betsy DeVos is a monster” in reply to stories about her. Now, if you don’t know much about DeVos, you might be thinking, “Okay, I get that you don’t agree with her policies, but she’s not an actual monster.”
To which I say, “Oh, she is.” After all, one of the worst things a person can do is to hurt children. And DeVos hurts children like it’s her job. Because it is. Or, rather, that’s what she’s chosen to do as the Secretary of Education under President Donald Trump.
Granted, she’s not physically hurting kids. But she also doesn’t seem particularly interested in stopping kids from getting hurt — or killed for that matter. After the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, I couldn’t help but notice how totally absent DeVos was. Especially since the students there became household names fighting for gun control and refusing to accept that they were acceptable collateral damage in this country’s obsession with guns.
True, DeVos did visit the school, but the students said she basically “pet a dog and left.” This was in reference to the therapy dogs that had been brought to campus to help the grieving students and faculty return to school.
“GTFO with that”
To most people, the idea of guns in school is completely insane. The vast majority of Americans are like, “GTFO with that.”
But not DeVos.
“[Teachers having guns in the classroom] should be an option for states and communities to consider,” she told Lesley Stahl during a 60 Minutes interview. And I hesitate to think of, like, my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Zorhoff, I couldn’t ever imagine her having a gun and being trained in that way. But for those who are — who are capable, this is one solution that can and should be considered. But no one size fits all. Every state and every community is going to address this issue in a different way.”
To which DeVos sadly did not add, “And since anyone who supports such a thing has no business having anything to do with schools, I hereby resign on national TV.”
When Stahl asked DeVos what she’s actually DOING about gun violence, DeVos said she’s going to “head up a task force,” which is corporate speak for, “Nothing.”
Stahl asked DeVos what accomplishments she’s most proud of as Education Secretary, and DeVos said, “We’ve begun looking at and rolling back a lot of the overreach of the federal government in education.”
And while “overreach” sounds bad, the things DeVos has been working to roll back include the Obama administration’s guidance for restroom use by transgender students, which dared suggest that trans students be allowed to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
DeVos also wanted to remind Obama guidance on “discriminatory discipline,” which is the problem of great disparities in the severity and frequency of discipline dished out to white and black students. When Stahl asked if this was an example of institutional racism, Devos basically shrugged it off.
She’s also revamped the Title IX guidelines for handling college sexual assault. As CBS News puts it, “She’s allowing colleges to require stronger evidence from accusers, and give the accused a greater benefit of the doubt.”
Imagine that, a Trump Administration official who thinks that sexual assault victims have it too easy when it comes to reporting their assaults.
During the 60 Minutes interview, Stahl asked DeVos why people hate her so much.
“I’m more misunderstood than anything,” she replied.
Huh. If she thinks she’s misunderstood, imagine how being a transgender student who needs to use the bathroom feels.
Did I mention that DeVos is a monster?
See the 60 minutes interview highlights
D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.