Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos testified before a House Appropriations subcommittee Thursday and was repeatedly unable to answer basic questions, got snippy with Democratic lawmakers, and falsely claimed research cited by top Democrats was wrong and had been "debunked."
(The numbers behind that research came from DeVos herself, according to this piece in the Washington Post.)
In an exchange with Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), DeVos got heated, refuted his claims, and yet was unable to give a correct answer.
"Everything you're citing is debunked, ridiculous, so I don't accept the premise of your question," DeVos, putting the word "question" in air quotes, told Pocan.
Congressman Pocan was referring to reports that show more than 40 percent of charter schools funded in full or in part by the federal government "collected the grants and then either did not open, or have opened and shut down," as the report's author wrote in The Washington Post.
Pocan responded by correctly saying the reports have "actually not" been debunked.
Minutes later Pocan revisited the 40 percent failure rate of charter schools, to DeVos' anger.
"That is not true, that has been a totally debunked report," she declared, waving her finger. "It's nothing but propaganda by an individual who has an in for charter schools."
"So what percent of charter schools are failing?" Pocan asked.
DeVos' mouth opened and her jaw dropped but she did not speak for several seconds.
"Do you have an idea?" Pocan pressed.
"I don't have a state – national," DeVos, flustered, replied.
"You're the Secretary of Education and you don't have this? You 'know' this report's wrong, but you don't –" Pocan said before being cut off.
"Charter schools are chartered by states, they are not chartered by the federal government," DeVos said, smiling, as if she won a debate. She had not. She had, however, ignored that the report shows 40.5% of charter schools received some if not all of their funding from the federal government.
"You know that number's not right but you don't have a correct number," Pocan responded.
"What I know is parents and families are choosing to send their children to charter schools," said DeVos.
"So you don't know the answer?" Pocan again asked.
"Parents and children are going to charter schools by choice," DeVos repeated, showing she has little interest in anything but continuing to fund charter schools, regardless of the cost to taxpayers or the cost to students who don't receive a good education, and the cost to public school students who lose funding every day a student attends a charter school instead of a public school.
That, too, is somewhat false. After three years of an anti-public schools Secretary of Education, parents are learning that charter schools "make up an outsized share of the number of public schools persistently graduating less than half of their students."
Americans are "turning against" charter schools reveals another Washington Post report.
Watch this exchange between Devos and Pocan:
.@repmarkpocan: 40% of charter schools that you're giving grant to are closing down BETSY DeVOS: That's a totally… https://t.co/yuhtyfgGHd— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1582819743.0