Betsy DeVos Somehow Addresses School Shootings Without Mentioning Guns


The country is coming off yet another school shooting. This time in Santa Fe, Texas where ten people were killed by a lone gunman with a shotgun and a revolver. That brings the country to a total of 23 school shootings in 2018, which is a little more than one per week. At the center of the conversation about school shootings is the role of guns.

The Parkland, FL shooting victims have let people know what they think the problem is: Lack of gun control. That is where the national discourse has stayed during the three months since deadliest school shooting of 2018. A large movement has since sprung up, even culminating with March for our Lives. So, given how central to the role of guns has been in the discussion…it’s a little strange that Betsy DeVos gave an entire testimony about the recent school shootings, without mentioning them once.

On Tuesday, Betsy DeVos testified before House lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Predictably, DeVos felt the need to address the recent school shootings and she did through a prepped response which more or less passed the buck off to local governments:

Our commitment to every student’s success is one we must renew every day, but first, we must ensure our children are safe at school. When evil visited Parkland, Florida, it shocked us. It angered us. And it pained us. The tragedy at Santa Fe High School in Texas was only the most recent, devastating reminder that our nation must come together to address the underlying issues that create a culture of violence.

This Administration is committed to keeping our nation’s students and teachers safe at school. I’ve directed my Department to do everything within the law to encourage those states and districts affected to take advantage of flexibilities so new funds appropriated under Title IV are useful.

I’m also pleased that Attorney General Sessions, Secretary Azar and Secretary Nielsen join me on the Federal Commission on School Safety. We are seeking input from students, parents, teachers, school safety personnel, administrators, law enforcement officials, mental health professionals, school counselors -- anyone who is focused on identifying and elevating practical solutions.

Naturally, the primary responsibility for the physical security of schools rests with states and local communities. The Commission looks forward to delivering best practices and findings by year’s end.

The fact that this entire testimony doesn’t mention guns once seems more like a strategic avoidance than a coincidence. Even if you are of the belief guns or gun control isn’t the problem, it seems odd not address them seeing as how it is the dominant narrative of the topic.

Tuesday’s meeting wasn’t just about the school shootings. DeVos also fielded questions about teacher walkouts, school segregation, and LGBTQ discrimination. The education landscape has been eventful as of late so expect many of these issues to pop again in DeVos’s future appearances and the 2018 elections.

Read the full prepared remarks here. (Ed.Gov)


Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.