How to keep bears out of schools, explained for Trump’s ed secretary

Betsy DeVos

  • If you weren’t watching the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee’s confirmation hearing for secretary of education nominee Betsy DeVos — and the Trump administration-in-waiting sure hopes you weren’t — you missed one of the more disastrous confirmation hearings in recent memory. [New Republic / Graham Vyse]
  • DeVos flubbed questions that were not supposed to be gotcha questions. Asked where she stood on a basic question in education policy — whether students should be tested for proficiency (hitting benchmarks) or for growth (improvement over time) — she … revealed she didn’t understand there was a difference between the two. [Vox / Libby Nelson]
  • She said that compliance with the Individuals With Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) should be left to the states (which makes no sense because it’s a federal law), horrifying parents of students with disabilities. [The Daily Beast / Elizabeth Picciuto]
  • And when trying to argue against a federal ban on guns in schools, she said schools might need guns to protect against grizzly bears. Which is ridiculous because, as everyone knows, schools threatened by bears can protect themselves with fences. (We here at Sentences assume you know a lot about bear defenses.) [Mic / Tom McKay]
  • Progressives had their doubts about DeVos going into Tuesday’s hearing for ideological reasons: DeVos has called the public school system a “dead end,” and has no experience (professional or personal) with it. [Politico / Benjamin Wermund]
  • If she had been prepared, though, the question from Bernie Sanders — asking whether she’d just been nominated because she and her family were major Republican donors — would have seemed a bit petty. As it was, it seemed like a very good question. [Vox / Jeff Stein]
  • Ultimately, this is a problem for Republicans. DeVos can’t achieve her policy goals (or those of her party) if she’s not competent at running her department.
  • Wilbur Ross
    • It’s unlikely that Democrats will be able to muster the momentum to stop DeVos’s nomination, though — or the nomination of any of the four other Trump administration nominees who’ve had their confirmation hearings in the past 24 hours. (This is deliberate; it’s a “flood the zone” strategy.) [CNBC / Eamon Javers]
    • So here’s your breakneck-speed roundup: Nikki Haley (nominee, US ambassador to the UN): firm, definite opinions that bore very little resemblance to the firm, definite opinions of the man who nominated her. [Vox / Jennifer Williams]
    • (Also: an apparent lack of familiarity with some important UN things, like why abstaining from votes is sometimes necessary.) [Hayes Brown via Twitter]
    • Scott Pruitt (nominee, EPA director): admitted that climate change was not a Chinese hoax, which is apparently all we require in EPA nominees these days. [Vox / Brad Plumer]
    • Rep. Tom Price (nominee, secretary of health and human services): hit hard over his apparent buying and selling of stocks relevant to bills he pushed in Congress… [Politico / Dan Diamond]
    • …and offered thoughts on Trumpcare that give some insight into the ongoing GOP fight over health care reform. [Vox / Sarah Kliff]

    And Wilbur Ross (nominee, secretary of commerce): pretty gung-ho about trade war with China, turns out. [FT / Shawn Donnan]

    No surprise

    Chart showing planetary temperatures trending upwardNASA
    • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Wednesday that 2016 was the hottest year on record, breaking a record previously set by 2015 and, before that, 2014. [PBS / Jessica Yarvin]
    • If you’ve been following trends in climate change, this is not surprising. (But if you’re more of a visual learner, these graphics are great.) [NYT / Jugal K. Patel]
    • Indeed, some scientists are (somewhat perversely) glad about the record, because it should hammer the last nail in the coffin of the myth that there’s been some sort of pause in global climate change.


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