• Nathan Max

Betsy DeVos Has No Plan

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

Photo credit: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wants all children back in school.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has distinguished herself as a particularly cruel and inept member of Donald Trump’s administration.

She is now one-upping herself in the middle of a devastating pandemic.

DeVos, who has floundered on multiple occasions over the past 3½ years in television interviews and during testimony on Capitol Hill, gave one of her worst performances over the weekend when she incoherently attempted to defend her policy of sending children back to school in the fall. DeVos has no plan to keep the nation’s children and educators safe, leaving it up to individual school districts to come up with their own ideas.

One day later, major school districts in Atlanta, Los Angeles and San Diego essentially told DeVos to stick it by announcing they would be conducting classes in an online-only format. Several Republican-led school districts, on the other hand, favor going the other way, falling in line with the administration’s push to reopen.

In Orange County, Calif., sandwiched between Los Angeles and San Diego, the Board of Education is recommending students return without masks or any physical distancing, although the county’s individual school districts will have the final say. In hard-hit Florida, where the viral catastrophe is particularly bad, schools are scheduled to open next month.

We have seen this play out already, and Republicans are repeating all the same mistakes. In Florida, Texas and Arizona, Republican-led governments reopened society too early, going against expert medical advice and leading to a conflagration of coronavirus infections. Now they are prepared to replicate this recklessness.

Here is the reality of the situation. Republicans can push to open schools all they want, but approximately 137,000 Americans have died in the last four months, with countless others having been severely sickened. If parents don’t think it is safe to send their kids to school, they will keep them home. If teachers don’t feel safe going to work, they will refuse to report.

Give a parent a choice between their child’s education or safety, and that parent will choose safety every time. Give an educator a choice between their job or their life, and that teacher will choose their life.

Children are back in school in several European countries, but here’s the difference between us and them. They have the virus under control. We do not.

Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos do not care about our nation’s children. They are willing to risk their lives and our health, because they think having kids back in school will help Trump get reelected. Once again, Trump fails to understand the basic tenet of virus economics. In order to bring the economy back, and return life to normal, you first must get control of the virus. Clearly, that has not been accomplished.

DeVos made herself look particularly foolish Sunday in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash. When Bash asked DeVos why there wasn’t any national guidance, and what she planned to do if there was an outbreak at a school, DeVos responded: “There’s really good examples that have been utilized in the private sector and elsewhere.”

When asked, straight-up, by Bash: “Do you have a plan?” DeVos responded: “Schools should do what’s right, on the ground, at that time, for their students and for their situation. There is no one uniform approach that we should take nationwide.”

In other words, there is none.