Betsy DeVos doubles down on guns and grizzly bears in latest interview

February 17, 2017, 11:19am

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is finally easing into her job, after a historic confirmation vote early last week that required Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote, the first ever for a Cabinet nominee. In a new interview with Axios, DeVos explains what she wishes she’d said during her disastrous confirmation hearing.

Though DeVos did squeak through (by the thinnest of margins), her hearing was near-catastrophic, for a number of reasons. She defended keeping guns in schools because they could be used to fend off grizzly bears. She said that federal law protecting students with disabilities was really a state-level issue. And she appeared not to understand basic education policy terms.

Speaking with Axios, the billionaire heiress and Michigan-based school choice activist sought to fix some of the havoc that she’d wrecked in her hearing, by expressing what she “wishes” she’d said instead of what she actually said. From the interview:

  • DeVos still isn’t sure if the federal government should be involved in education, acknowledging that “there have been important inflection points” for government intervention but that she “can’t think of any now.”
  • She thinks her infamous example of using guns in schools to protect students from grizzly bears was a “valid illustration.”
  • DeVos now says she “absolutely” supports the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which at her confirmation hearing she said was a matter “best left to the states.”
  • There will be lots of new schools that don’t look anything like normal schools — she “expects” there to be more “public charter schools,” “private schools,” “virtual schools,” and “schools of any kind that haven’t even been invented yet.”
  • When asked how DeVos might change the education budget, she replied that she sees “opportunity” to make cuts but declined to specify further.

Since DeVos took office, she has been met by demonstrators blocking her entrance to public schools, and students around the country have staged walkouts in protest against her confirmation.

READ MORE: School choice gutted Detroit’s schools. America’s schools are next.