Her Senate confirmation last week—won by a hair’s breadth—didn’t help to make US education secretary Betsy DeVos any less blisteringly controversial.
Neither, surely, will this. In an interview with Axios’s Jonathan Swan published this morning, DeVos—a Michigan billionaire with no personal experience in public education—revealed she was apparently just as taken by surprise by president Donald Trump’s choice to nominate her as the rest of the US was.
It was the day after the election that somebody with whom I’ve worked for a number of years actually e‑mailed and said, ‘Would you ever think about secretary of education?’
I literally have never given it a thought. But if the opportunity ever presented itself, how could I not consider it?
She added she became enthusiastic about the job when she realized Trump’s views on education policy, specifically that many students aren’t served well by traditional forms of schooling, were “very aligned” with hers. In her previous life as an immoderate philanthropist, she and her husband, Dick DeVos (son of Amway founder Richard DeVos), pumped millions of dollars into advocacy for charter schools.
Other highlights from the interview include DeVos admitting that her decision to use grizzly bears as a defense for guns on school campuses, at her appropriately grizzly confirmation hearing back in January, was not great.
“It just probably wasn’t the best illustration I could have given,” she told Axios. On policy matters she stayed vague, but hinted that there is an “opportunity” to slim the federal education budget and that she expects America to soon have “more private schools… virtual schools… schools of any kind that haven’t even been invented yet.”
With DeVos openly admitting her lack of readiness for the job, it wouldn’t be a bad bet to say more Saturday Night Live skits are on the horizon. (“Well yes, I don’t know anything about school, but I do think there should be a school,” SNL comedian Kate McKinnon last declared in her uncanny impression of DeVos, which begins around the 6:00 mark in the video below.)