Betsy DeVos visited Stoneman Douglas, but students weren't thrilled

"I don't understand the point of her being here"

Published March 7, 2018 3:09PM (EST)

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks to the news during a press conference about her visit to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. (Getty/Joe Raedle)
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks to the news during a press conference about her visit to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. (Getty/Joe Raedle)

After visiting Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of one of the worst mass shootings in history, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos defended President Donald Trump's proposal to arm school teachers. She said that her meeting with students went well, but they had a different opinion of what happened.

In a brief news conference, DeVos said the visit was "very sobering and very inspiring." She added that she met with "a small group of students that are having a particularly tough time," along with teachers and students who worked for the school newspaper.

"I was just there to be there, to be with them," DeVos said, according to CNN.

When asked about Trump's floated proposal to arm educators, not many specifics were given. DeVos' visit was also closed to the press.

"I think that the concept is to, for those schools and those communities that opt to do this," DeVos said of arming teachers, "to have people who are expert in being able to defend and having lots and lots of training to do so."

She acknowledged that it "should be an option" but that "it's certainly not one that needs to be required or mandated for every community."

When asked if she had promised the students anything during her visit, DeVos replied that she told student journalists she'd sit down for an interview with them on a more appropriate date at a later time.

During the news conference, DeVos did not elaborate on further specifics about Trump's proposal to bolster school security and allow faculty to arm themselves. She also did not express support for several measures students who have turned into activists as a result of the tragedy have requested, such as an assault weapons ban.

Some students quickly took their frustration to Twitter and expressed they had wanted more than just a photo-op.

Greg Pittman, a history teacher at the school, questioned why DeVos showed up to begin with.

"Is she here just for a photo op? Is she bringing us any money for security? Is she bringing any money for mental health? Is she bringing us any money for teacher pay?" he asked in a gathering with a small group of people in the school's media center, according to CNN. "Is she bringing us any other things that we need help with in education, or is it just a photo-op to send her down, appear in front of some cameras, take some pictures that she was here, pretend they care and then fly back off to Washington?"

Since the Valentine's Day tragedy, students have sprung into action and have led a movement and called for meaningful action. The students have also looked at the National Rifle Association as a prime target and released a video this week that mocked an NRA ad. The video delivered a firm and clear message to those opposed to change: "Your time is running out."

By Charlie May

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