DeVos’ Interview Raises Concern on Student Safety

Ernest  Logan, AFSA Executive Vice President responds to Betsy DeVos’ interview on 60 Minutes:

“The American Federation of School Administrators stands for the principle that public education is the bedrock of democracy.  Therefore, we take very seriously the role of the US Secretary of Education. For the past year, we have cautiously observed the new Secretary, Betsy DeVos, who assumed the position with no experience in education, a stated goal to divert resources from public schools to charter and private schools, and a declaration that public schools are a “dead end.”

Following last night’s interview with Secretary DeVos on 60 Minutes, we have cause for even greater caution. Her inability to answer basic education policy questions, and her habit of contradicting herself on critical topics is disheartening to the educators, parents and students who value education for all.

This interview also reaffirms that the Secretary’s views on school choice are misguided. She could not confirm the schools in Michigan – her home state – are performing up to par, and she stated that she has never even visited an “underperforming” school to learn what challenges those students and educators are confronting.

Concerning her remark that arming educators could be a viable local option to combating mass shootings, we could not disagree more. Putting guns in the hands of educators will not accomplish that goal. In fact, it may make the entire school community feel less safe. We will reiterate what we have already said: Educators are not law enforcement officers; educators are not SWAT team members; the role of an educator is to teach our children.

On March 1, AFSA called on the Secretary to establish a National School Safety Task Force, to develop best practices and offer real solutions, and to include AFSA and its members as key participants in developing any recommendations. We hope she hears us. We believe there is much she can learn from public school leaders about improving school safety and about the role of public education in a free society.”