It’s been called a “Train wreck” and “tough to watch”. Even the White House is “alarmed”. The headlines and tweets were merciless. Already described by many (in both parties) as unqualified for the job of Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos did herself no favors while being grilled by Leslie Stahl on “60 Minutes”.
Unprepared. For “60 MINUTES”! The premier destination for television interviews not just in this day and age but in American history!!! My first thought, this was akin to playing in the Super Bowl without practicing the week prior but after watching the interview multiple times – it’s more like starting the season without a playbook!
(we’d love to post the entire 12 minute interview but CBS has placed a copyright on it)
The shame of it is – throwing gasoline atop a mountain of fervent criticism was avoidable – with just a few hours of preparation! DeVos said she was “…committed to a process that’s fair for everyone involved” and “…committed to giving students an opportunity to learn in an environment that is conducive to learning”
She needs to commit to a few talking points – quickly.
For example, this exchange touches on the ONE area where DeVos should be well versed. She’s been an advocate for School Choice for years and in fact, it’s the platform that got her appointed:
DEVOS: Well, in places where there have been — where there is — a lot of choice that’s been introduced — Florida, for example, the — studies show that when there’s a large number of students that opt to go to a different school or different schools, the traditional public schools actually — the results get better, as well.
STAHL: Now, has that happened in Michigan? We’re in Michigan. This is your home state.
DeVOS: Michi — Yes, well, there’s lots of great options and choices for students here.
STAHL: Have the public schools in Michigan gotten better?
DEVOS: I don’t know. Overall, I – I can’t say overall that they have all gotten better.
STAHL: The whole state is not doing well.
DEVOS: Well, there are certainly lots of pockets where this — the students are doing well and –
Oh man – at least know what’s happening in your home state, know a few numbers. Pick a school any school, spin it! Cite the actual study in Florida, cite any real study! Have an argument- ONE talking point,ONE! Please.
The only thing she really had going for her was honesty. When asked if she had visited any under performing schools she admitted, she hadn’t. When asked what her confirmation hearing was like she gave her best line, “I’ve not had a root canal but I can imagine having one might be more pleasant than that was”. Great analogy! She even opened up about the constant criticism “hurting” at times and you could tell she was feeling it right then and there.
We can’t help but think some of that honesty, infused with a few simple facts may have given her a passing grade – or at the very least upgraded the interview from “train wreck” status.
We’d like to know who exactly is counseling DeVos? Are any communications professionals on staff, any experts/advisors there to help? Anyone? Secretary DeVos give us a call! Your reputation depends on it!