Education Reform Freedom of Speech Freedom of the Press Lies

Valerie Strauss Is Astonished by Betsy DeVos’s Chutzpah

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Valerie Strauss was dumbfounded by the irony of Betsy DeVos’s speech on Constitution Day.

First, she criticized colleges “for abandoning truth.”

“What she didn’t say was that the president for whom she works utters, on average, more than eight lies a day, according to The Washington Post. His mistruths and exaggerations have become a central feature of his presidency, reported on virtually every day.

“President Trump isn’t the only member of his administration who has been caught abandoning the truth, of course.

“To name just a few: former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI; former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI; Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, who pleaded guilty to crimes including campaign finance violations related to hush money paid to women who allegedly had affairs with Trump. Et cetera.”

Then, she complained that the nation’s schools were failing to teach civics.

“DeVos expressed such pronounced concern about a lack of civics education that you might be surprised to learn that her Education Department sought to cut money for it in the 2018 and 2019 budget proposals. Congress refused to go along.”

Of course, she went on about protecting the Constitution but here is what she did not mention.

“There’s something ironic about DeVos talking about a First Amendment right when she and the administration she works for seem not terribly concerned about another First Amendment right, freedom of the press.

“Putting aside Trump’s constant attacks on the news media as being the “enemy of the people,” the Education Department under DeVos often does not respond to journalists who ask basic questions, and the secretary herself rarely talks to reporters.

“The department also has been aggressive in finding internal leakers of unclassified information. Last year, DeVos asked her agency’s Office of Inspector General to investigate whether grounds existed to criminally prosecute employees who had leaked unclassified information and data to journalists. It cited three incidents, between May and October 2017, in which there appeared to be unauthorized release of information, including publication by The Washington Post of material from the department’s budget proposal before it was publicly released.”

Unclassified information!

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