US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos spoke to students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday, marking the school’s first full day of classes since the mass killing that occurred there on Valentine’s Day.
DeVos spoke to students, teachers and administrators during a speech that was closed to the press. Afterward, she said it was a very “sobering and inspiring moment and visit. I come committed on behalf of this administration to continuing to work to find solutions so that no student and no parent ever has to go through what this community has had to endure.”
The New York Daily News accused DeVos of “abruptly walking out” of her meeting at the school, saying her visit was met with ridicule from students on social media. After DeVos’s visit, the secretary received a tweet from student Aly Sheehy, saying “You came to our school just for publicity and avoided our questions for the 90 minutes you were actually here. How about you do your job?”
Student activist Emma Gonzalez, who has gained 1.2 million Twitter followers in the course of her campaign to impose gun control laws, didn’t bother showing up for the speech. In a Tweet on Tuesday night responding to the announcement of DeVos’s visit, she tweeted, “good thing I was already planning on sleeping in that day.”
Gonzalez made headlines on February 22 when she confronted NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch at a CNN town hall on gun issues in an attempt to insult Loesch’s parenting, asking “Dana Loesch. I want you to know that we will support your two children in a way you will not…Do you believe that it should be harder to obtain (semi-automatic) weapons?”
Loesch responded, “None of us support people who are crazy, who are a danger to themselves, who are a danger to others, getting their hands on a firearm. I’m not just fighting for my kids, I’m fighting for you, I’m fighting for you, I’m fighting for all of you.”
During Secretary DeVos’s visit to Stoneman Douglas, she recognized a voluntary program in Polk County that trains and arms teachers to be prepared and take defensive measures in a school shooting scenario: “I think it’s a model that can be adopted and should be an option for schools, for states, for communities. But it’s not one that needs to be required or mandated for every community.”