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This Bar’s Sign for Betsy DeVos Is Getting a Lot of (Confused) Attention

“It's a bit alarming, especially since so many of the angry comments are from people who clearly agree with the sign's sentiments,” Saint John’s co-owner and chalkboard artist Michael Lee told MUNCHIES.

President Trump's cabinet appointees are slowly filling their seats, with a man set to lead the EPA who once said he'd abolish the department and a fast food CEO who has been vocally opposed to raising the minimum wage poised to become the next Secretary of Labor. Then, of course, there's Betsy DeVos, a billionaire proponent of charter schools and funneling public money to private schools in the form of vouchers, who is our new Secretary of Education.


As you've probably heard, her confirmation almost didn't happen—Vice President Mike Pence had to step in to cast a deciding vote, the first time a VP has ever had to do so in history. So to congratulate DeVos on her narrow win in spite of her lack of experience with the public school system, a bar and restaurant in Seattle devoted their chalkboard sign to the big news.

"Congratchulayshuns Betsy!!! Your the change we've been waiting four. Show em whose boss!" Saint John's Bar and Eatery's sign read.

As you may have surmised, the sign takes a crack at DeVos's aptitude for the job, which was questioned extensively throughout the confirmation process, during which she suggested that schools might need guns onsite in case of grizzly bears. But even when a Facebook post of the chalkboard sign went viral, a lot of people didn't get the joke.

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…Should we be worried?

"You could have fit some proper grammar on this sign…" one person wrote.

Saint John's repeatedly jumped into the comments to clarify that the sign was meant as satire, but that didn't stem the outrage from a minority of commenters. Those who got the joke loved it and even offered some spelling corrections of their own, suggesting, for example, that they misspelled "weave." But there were also those who offered a confusing mix of anti-DeVos anger and outrage at what they saw as a sincere congratulatory note.


"It's brain dead Fucking Retards like you are the reason she SHOULDN'T have been appointed. Re-read your sign with a grown-up…… Ass Clown!" another man offered.

"I'll make sure to pass this around so nobody comes to your establishment, since you're so fast to support somebody that wants to change public schools to a voucher system," another person wrote.

"It's a bit alarming, especially since so many of the angry comments are from people who clearly agree with the sign's sentiments," Saint John's co-owner and chalkboard artist Michael Lee told MUNCHIES. "I almost didn't misspell "congratchulayshuns" because I thought was too ham-fisted. We continue to get mail from angry lords of grammar pointing out one of the signs errors ('you're' is a favorite) and ignoring the others."

Saint John's has used its chalkboard to take on political issues in the past, taking shots at both sides of the aisle. "I make signs about a whole variety of topics, something in the news or a big local or national event like the Super Bowl. My experience has been that political or cultural messaging does incite emotion in people—sometimes in a good way, sometimes not," Lee said.

But no previous sign has racked up two million views on Facebook or been shared more than 20,000 times.The popularity took Lee by surprise, who says he often puts considerable thought into his signs.

"This was not one of those times," Lee said. "For example, every year during Pride Week, I spend a few hours working on a sign that has a bit more resonance to it.


"While some of them have gotten a fair bit of attention from people walking by, I have never had a sign come even remotely close to blowing up the way the DeVos sign has—and I put about two minutes of thought and work into it."

Despite the general dismay voiced by education experts to Devos' confirmation, Lee sees one bright spot in the news.

"To me, last week's 'real' news is that Seattle is a city that does not intend to roll over for the next four years, and if there is any copper lining to this shitshow we're all living it's that community is what is going to save us. Maybe," Lee said. "But this is not a partisan issue. Subtract politics from the equation and you have an immensely unqualified individual in an extremely prominent position of power, literally shaping the future."

Looking back at the misinterpretations of the sign, it looks like DeVos should add a renewed effort to improve reading comprehension to her to-do list—but first, they'll have to take a look at spelling within the Department of Education itself. The day after her confirmation, the Department's Twitter account tweeted a quote attributed to NAACP founder "W.E.B. DeBois." Realizing they had misspelled DuBois' name, they tweeted "our deepest apologizes for the earlier typo."

DeVos really has her werk cut out four her.