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Education secretary gives education chiefs some ‘tough love’

WASHINGTON (AP) – Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Monday gave state education chiefs some “tough love” as she pushed them to innovate and do better by students.

Speaking at a conference of the Council of Chief State School Officers, DeVos blasted some schools for exposing their children to rats, mold, bullying and fists.

“Will you look into those students’ eyes and settle for only what’s required, nothing more?” DeVos asked top education officials from roughly 30 states. “What are you going to do to rethink education in your state?”

But some pushed back. Speaking in the wake of the Florida school shooting that left 17 people dead, Tony Smith, the Illinois state schools superintendent, said the Trump administration was cutting federal funding for education, including school safety.

“All of the cuts that are proposed do make it more difficult to do some of the things that people here want more of,” Smith told reporters after he and his colleagues met with DeVos.

Kirsten Baesler, the North Dakota education chief, agreed. “It certainly makes our job harder to keep our students safe when our resources are being cut back or eliminated,” she said.

Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt said DeVos has been inconsistent in how she grades states’ education plans. Pruitt said that she rejected one proposal from his plan dealing with school evaluation, but kept the same one in Georgia’s.

“There is a lot of inconsistency in how those reports have been done,” Pruitt told reporters. “I had to move it out of mine, get my state board to agree to that, but it got approved in other places.”