Graham Vyse writes in The New Republic that Betsy DeVos was stumped time and again by straightforward questions from Democrats. Meanwhile, Republicans fell all over themselves praising her for being willing to serve in a job for which she is manifestly unfit.

 

“Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of education, just failed her first test. At her Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday night, the billionaire conservative philanthropist and “school choice” advocate appeared unprepared to answer straightforward questions about school reform, and she aired extreme views that could cause headaches for the incoming administration.

The worst of it began when Senator Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, asked DeVos about a longtime debate in education policy over whether students should be evaluated on their academic growth or “proficiency.” The nominee seemed stumped:
“I think, if I’m understanding your question correctly around proficiency, I would also correlate it to competency and mastery, so that each student is measured according to the advancement they’re making in each subject area,” she said.

 

“Well, that’s growth. That’s not proficiency,” Franken replied. “I’m talking about the debate between proficiency and growth and what your thoughts are on that.”
“DeVos said she was “just asking to clarify,” and then Franken really pounced.

 

“It surprises me that you don’t know this issue,” he said, “and Mr. Chairman, I think this a good reason for us to have more questions.”

 

“To the average American tuning in on C-SPAN, this moment might have seemed like know-it-all nitpicking from Franken. DeVos’s answer suggests she’s not well-versed on policy, and begs the question why she wasn’t better prepared.”

 

Possibly, DeVos knew that her generous contributions to Republicans made her confirmation a mere formality, so there was no need to prepare. Most of her answers were evasive or noncommittal.