“Yachts and Guns and Bears – oh my!”: The Ministry of Truth… errrrr, Department of Education in Trump’s America

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Jenifer Barclay



Over the summer, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos could not seem to stay out of the limelight. In July, someone quietly untied the Secretary’s $40 million yacht during the night as it docked in Huron, Ohio and the crew aboard slept, causing five to ten thousand dollars of damage when the vessel drifted into the dock. As comedian Stephen Colbert reassured his late-night audience, however, no one needed to fear for the Secretary’s weekend lake plans since this was one of ten opulent yachts owned by her family. In August, she again made a splash when the New York Times reported her plans to evaluate whether individual states can allow local schools to use federal funds to purchase firearms for “safety.” A loophole in the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act potentially left open the possibility of utilizing a portion of the Act’s one billion dollar Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants to this end. A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Education (DoEd) claimed this issue is “getting blown way out of proportion,” but one could easily disagree. The Secretary heads the Federal School Safety Commission, supports the President’s proposal to eliminate gun-free zones on school grounds (because, she argued, grizzly bears “might” endanger children), and belongs to a family whose politics and fortune intersect with right-wing radicalism, Christian fanaticism, and mercenarism.


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“Yachts and Guns and Bears – oh my!”: The Ministry of Truth… errrrr, Department of Education in the United States by Jenifer L. Barclay is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Based on a work at http://rdsjournal.org/index.php/journal/article/view/897. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://www.rds.hawaii.edu.

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