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Parkland students left frustrated with Betsy DeVos’ brief visit

Student reporters say DeVos refused to answer questions.


David Gilmour


Posted on Mar 7, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 10:29 pm CDT

Students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were not impressed with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ visit to the school in Parkland, Florida, where just three weeks ago 17 people were gunned down in a mass shooting.

The visit was closed to all reporters, except those associated with the school’s publications. Carly Novell, a senior who edits Eagle Eye, the school newspaper, tweeted that the secretary had “refused to even meet/speak with students” and that “no one followed her.”

Outraged, students blasted the visit as a mere publicity stunt.

By the time these accounts were circulating on Twitter, DeVos went into detail a bit about the visit, saying she met with students who told her they were doing well, but acknowledged the recovery is “very tough.”

She also gave credit to the kids speaking out in the wake of the shooting for “finding their voices” and said they hoped they continued and that adults kept listening. 

The conference, with reporters from national media outlets, lasted eight minutes, during which time DeVos answered five questions and speak about Trump’s proposal to arm teachers. She said that the issue of arming teachers did not come up in her visit with students. 

In the wake of the mass shooting at the school, many of the survivors and students have mobilized as advocates for gun control, calling for a serious political conversation on the issue. The activism is set to take the fight right to Capitol Hill in a ‘March for Our Lives’ protest set for March 24 in Washington, D.C.

The students’ proposals for gun control have been challenged by the National Rifle Association, whose representatives have engaged the young activists in debate on television and online. However, students are becoming increasingly frustrated by lawmakers and, particularly, the Trump administration. That in mind, DeVos’ visit on Wednesday is not likely to ease the tensions or appease the rising movement.

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*First Published: Mar 7, 2018, 3:14 pm CST