A much-touted trip by alleged Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to visit the shooting survivors at Marjory Stoneman Douglas went about as well as any sentient being would expect. DeVos, an arrogant oblivious grifter who perennially underestimates her audience, infuriated many of the well-schooled, media-savvy, been-through-hell students who are all done with governmental bullshit – #Neveragain – and saw right through the dog-and-pony photo op. During a 90-minute visit closed to the press, students said DeVos mostly walked around the school with three student journalists: “We just kind of followed her around.” DeVos also petted a therapy dog, interrupted a counseling session, declined to meet with, talk to or ask any questions of any other students, and failed to answer the few questions she was asked. Hell, complained one, she didn’t even offer any thoughts and prayers.
“She did not sit down with any students and ask what we wanted,” wrote one of the journalists. “Douglas has 3,000 students. None of them were invited.” Yearbook editor Aly Sheehy likewise shredded the visit: “It was a publicity stunt, really. There was no point to it.” Playing off a DeVos adage to “Be different. Be bold. Try something unexpected. Do something new,” Sheehy retorted, “Do something unexpected: Answer our questions…How about you actually do your job?” Many others on social media offered suggestions for the “something new” DeVos could do. “Resign” was far and away the most popular idea; others included, “Be human,” “Pay teachers what they’re worth,” “Hire people who actually know how to do their job, not hacks who bought their position” and stop making “tragedies serve as the backdrop for expensive photo ops for government officials.”
Others explained “she needs to see a check in your hand” for her to answer any questions, and proposed that bringing a grizzly would help get her attention. Above all, students raged at the vacuous gibberish she spewed when they asked just what she would do to stop the carnage. She said officials were “working really hard on things,” she didn’t “think this is the time to really ask those types of questions,” and she wants to ensure “we bring forward solutions that communities can put in place that will be appropriate for their surroundings and will ensure that they can care for their students.” Noted one observer, “The only thing that scares Betsy DeVos more than grizzly bears in schools are engaged students who want to have a real conversation about gun control.”
That remained clear through an 8-minute, five-question press conference in which she defended arming teachers, praised the therapy dogs, and blathered on about “this whole situation,” “finding common ground” and “taking a really robust inventory of what states are doing” about “some of the issues that have arisen here” – aka children being massacred – before abruptly walking out. At that, on video of the departure, you can hear a stunned cameraman mutter, “Are you kidding me?” Shortly after, NBA star Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat also turned up at the school to voice his admiration and offer his support; kids’ cellphone video captures the cafeteria erupting in exultant cheers, fist bumps and high fives. Wade, who actually has a connection with the school, the area and the losses inflicted by gun violence, later posted a photo with several kids. “Future leaders is what I call them,” he said. “Change is here.” The feeling was mutual. “Can Dwayne Wade be our new secretary of education?” wrote one student. “He’s done 1,000 times more than Betsy DeVos today.”
Aly Sheehy shows off her voter registration, which just arrived in the mail