Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos claims that "many in the media use my name as clickbait"

DeVos tells journalists they need to "get the terminology right about schools and school choice"

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published May 7, 2019 8:12AM (EDT)

US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (Getty/Mandel Ngan)
US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (Getty/Mandel Ngan)

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos told the National Education Writers Association conference in Baltimore that she believes the media uses her name as "clickbait."

"I don’t enjoy the publicity that comes with my position. I don’t love being up on stage or on any kind of platform. I’m an introvert," DeVos told the journalists who attended the conference, according to Politico. She added that "as much as many in the media use my name as clickbait or try to make it all about me, it’s not."

DeVos also criticized the media for how it covers some of her policies. For example, she objected to the term "vouchers for charter schools" and insisted that the media needs to "get the terminology right about schools and school choice."

“Charter schools are public schools. Vouchers are not tax-credits, nor are they tax-deductions, nor education savings accounts nor 529 accounts. There are many different mechanisms that empower families to choose the education that’s right for their children, and they are just that — mechanisms," DeVos said during her speech. She further claimed that she supports vouchers for charter schools, because "I realized more and more the unfairness of the situation and the unfairness that we have grown accustomed to."

DeVos also used her speech to take swipes at teachers' strikes throughout the country, which she argued are being conducted in a way that harms students.

"I think it's important that adults have adult disagreements on adult time and that they not ultimately hurt kids in the process. I think too often they're doing so by walking out of classrooms and having arguments in the way that they are," DeVos told the journalists, according to the Associated Press. DeVos also criticized Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, by implying that Weingarten's high salary made her a hypocrite when she advocates for higher salaries for teachers.

"Great teachers perhaps should be making at least half as much as what Randi Weingarten does at a half million dollars a year," DeVos told the journalists.

Weingarten responded to DeVos' dig with a statement saying that she would be "delighted if Betsy wants to get all teachers close to $200,000 — they deserve that — and so much more. We could do this if Betsy worked with us to revoke tax cuts for rich people. She won't even have to give up the summer homes and the yachts."

This is not the first time that DeVos has criticized teachers' strikes. Last year, she told a teacher of the year who asked about the strikes that adults should "take their disagreements and solve them not at the expense of kids and their opportunity to go to school and learn."

"I’m very hopeful there will be a prompt resolution there. I hope that we can collectively stay focused on doing what’s right for individual students and supporting parents in that decision-making process, as well," she added. "And there are many parents that want to have a say in how and where their kids pursue their education, too."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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