Trump’s Cabinet: The Absurd Secretary of Education

Elisha siccing bears on 42 young scholars. If only they had had a gun.

Elisha siccing bears on 42 young scholars. If only they had had a gun.

If WC recalls his Bible correctly, God sent two bears to attack and kill forty-two (42!) children who teased the prophet Elisha for being bald. You could look it up:  2 Kings 2:23–24. It’s certainly consistent with the generally distasteful character of the most unpleasant character in fiction.

But that’s also the only instance WC can find in which young scholars were killed by bears while doing anything remotely resembling attending school.

Which makes Betsy DeVos’s claim even more absurd. In testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, asked if firearms should be in classrooms, DeVos mentioned an elementary school in Wapiti, Wyoming, that had erected a fence to protect children from wildlife. “I think probably there, I would imagine that there’s probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies.”1

School shootings since 2013 = 210.
Grizzly school attacks = 0

Grizzly bear attacks on schools since 1900. None.

In the 2000s, there have been 27 fatal bear incidents so far in North America, resulting in 29 deaths. 15 were in Canada, three were in Alaska, two were in Tennessee, and single fatal attacks happened in New York, New Mexico, California, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Utah and Montana. 17 of those attacks were perpetrated by black bears, and 10 by grizzlies.

For comparison, lightning kills 90 people in North America each year. That means you are 53 times more likely to be killed by lightning than by a bear. And that if you are in a school, your chances to being attacked, let alone killed by a bear, are immeasurably low.

Maybe it was especially clumsy and ill-considered pandering to the gun nut constituency. But given the number of firearm ffatalities in the classroom the attempted pandering was in execrably bad taste.

If that statement alone doesn’t demonstrate DeVos’s breathtaking incompetence, how about her complete ignorance of special education programs. It’s the second largest category of federal spending on education. But she didn’t know what IDEA — the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act — was. That would be approximately lie a nominee for Secretary of Defense not knowing what an F-35 was. Or a nominee for for Secretary of Energy not knowing about nuclear programs – well, maybe that’s a bad example.

These examples only touch on the stunning incompetence of Betsy DeVos as the nation;s education boss. The Washington Post has a longer, more detailed takedown.

Let’s be honest: DeVos is a nominee because she’s a billionaire and she and her family gave seriously big bucks to the Republican political campaigns. Like $200 million. That’s enough to buy an ambassadorship to someplace unimportant with a congenial climate, but it’s not enough it should never be enough, to entrust with the next generation of students. DeVos, who didn’t attend public schools herself and whose children didn’t attend public schools, vehemently and obsessively supports a voucher system for education. She can provide no evidence to establish that gets better education.

And don’t get WC started on where DeVos got her billions: she’s married to the heir of Amway, a fraudulent multi-level marketing scheme. Peddling soap, indeed.2

You have to wonder how Elisha overlooked Ms. DeVos when it came to bears?


  1. Presumably, this would be a pistol. The technical term for a person shooting a grizzly bear with a pistol is “dead.” 
  2.  Her brother, Erik Prince, a former U.S. Navy SEAL officer, is the founder of Academi, formerly Blackwater USA. You remember Blackwater;  in 2007, a group of its employees killed 17 Iraqi civilians and injured 20 in Nisour Square, Baghdad. Four of Blackwater’s guards were convicted in a U.S. court.