After facing backlash from some students following a visit to Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland, Fla. last week, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said on Sunday that arming teachers “should be an option for states and communities to consider.”
During an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” DeVos said, “my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Zorhoff, I couldn't ever imagine her having a gun and being trained in that way.” She added, “for those who are — who are capable, this is one solution.”
The education secretary praised the Parkland survivors for their call to action on gun violence in the wake of a mass shooting which left 17 people dead and 14 injured inside their school last month.
“I give a lot of credit to the students there for really raising their voices, and I think that they are not going to let this moment go by,” DeVos said during the interview.
She said the students are seeking more than gun control.
“They want a variety of things,” she said. "They want solutions.”
During her appearance on the Sunday broadcast, DeVos defended the administration's push to shrink the Education Department’s funding.
“We have invested billions and billions and billions of dollars from the federal level and we have seen zero results,” she said.
CBS' Lesley Stahl contended, “Test scores have gone up over the last 25 years. So why do you keep saying nothing's been accomplished?”
“Test scores vis-à-vis the rest of the world have not gone up,” DeVos said. “And we have continued to be middle of the pack at best. That's just not acceptable.”
The wide-ranging interview touched on DeVos’ support for school choice, a long-held position for the former school mentor and daughter of a public school teacher.
“What can be done about that is empowering parents to make the choices for their kids,” she continued. “Families that don't have the power, that can't decide, I am fighting for the parents who don't have those choices. We need all parents to have those choices.”
Asked if she has spent any time in the public schools that are considered “bad” and that stand to lose funding when a child leaves for another school, including in her home state of Michigan, she said, “I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming".
DeVos also tried to navigate questions on the Me-Too Movement, telling Stahl, “one sexual assault is one too many, and one falsely accused individual is one too many.”
After being asked if these two incidents are the same, in a stunning admission, DeVos said, “I don't know. I don't know.”
DeVos has long faced criticism since her nomination for her comments on such topics and school safety, black history and other matters.
“I'm not so sure exactly how that happened," DeVos said of the backlashes she often faces and added that she feels “more misunderstood than anything.”