The Worst Education Secretary Ever Compares U.S. Schools to East Germany

Photo: Zach Gibson (Getty Images)

With so many sycophants, industry insiders, and corrupt individuals in Donald Trump’s administration, it’s hard to say exactly who’s the worst of them. But Education Secretary Betsy DeVos certainly is in the running.

The person who wanted to wipe out funding for the Special Olympics delivered a bizarre, pro-Reagan speech Friday at the conservative Young America’s Foundation in which she blamed “governments,” “unions,” and “associations of this, and organizations of that” for the country’s troubled education system. And to demonstrate just how out of touch she is with the year 2019, DeVos dropped a reference to East Germany.

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DeVos used the Berlin Wall as a metaphor: “Each dismantled piece of the Berlin Wall is a testament to [Ronald] Reagan’s force of purpose and principle. While that wall was reduced to rubble, there’s another kind of wall that needs tearing down today,” she said. “I’m referring to a wall in education that keeps too many students from learning. It separates wealthy, powerful, or well-connected students from those who aren’t wealthy, powerful, or well-connected. They have about as much education freedom in America today as East Germans had freedom to do anything back then.”

Good one, Betsy.

“Too many students are up against another empire—governments, unions, associations of this, and organizations of that. It’s an education cabal that protects the status quo at the expense of just about everyone else,” she added, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

DeVos’ solution to the country’s education woes is a $5 billion plan to create tax credits that allow families to attend schools of their choosing, including private ones, Politico noted. “More government is clearly not the solution to this problem,” she said on Friday. So what is? “Freedom.”

“Students win with freedom,” DeVos said. “First, freedom from government.”

She also blamed the “social engineering” of the Obama administration, a reference to Title IX, a federal civil rights law that protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. Late last year, DeVos released rule changes to the Title IX law that would provide more protections to students who are accused of sexual misconduct, to the detriment of victims.

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And finally, DeVos set out to redefine public education. “[L]et’s stop and rethink the definition of public education,” she said. “Today, it’s often defined as one-type of school, funded by taxpayers, controlled by government. But if every student is part of the public, then every way and every place a student learns is ultimately of benefit to the public. That should be the new definition of public education.”

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