United States Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a product of private schools who advocates moving federal dollars from public to private schools, did not seem to know what a verb was on Tuesday.
DeVos tweeted out a graphic, designed like a dictionary entry, which encouraged her audience to “Rethink school.” It misidentified those words, which are a phrase or sentence depending on punctuation, as a verb. DeVos posted the graphic below a personal message that used “rethink” as a noun.
“Rethink School’ is not a verb. It is a sentence. Specifically, it is an imperative sentence. (I looked it up.),” tweeted comedian W. Kamau Bell. “Normally, I’m not the grammar police, but I figured since the word ‘education’ is literally in your job title, you’d probably like to fix this.
“Also you used ‘rethink’ as a noun in your tweet, so this really is all over the place. Again, since you are in charge of the education of millions of kids, I thought you’d want to know so you can fix it immediately.”
Ummm… @BetsyDeVosED, “Rethink School” is NOT a verb. It is a sentence. Specifically, it is an imperative sentence. (I looked it up.) Normally, I’m not the grammar police, but I figured since the word “education” is literally in your job title you’d probably like to fix this.? pic.twitter.com/CdVK2ooWcd
— Wakanda Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) March 14, 2018
Dictionary.com weighed in on Twitter as well.
Verb: A member of a class of words that typically express action, state, or a relation between two things.
Not a verb: “Rethink school” #DeVos #Education #Grammarhttps://t.co/yPBC8dGpeQ https://t.co/SC2TOxXjmi
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) March 14, 2018
Betsy DeVos is no stranger to controversy
The tweet follows a disastrous 60 Minutes interview last Sunday, wherein DeVos said she hadn’t “intentionally” visited underperforming schools and struggled to answer questions about the poor results from her favored “school choice” initiative in her home state of Michigan.
They were the latest in a series of gaffes by DeVos and her agency that would probably be edited out of a political satire as too on-the-nose.
At her confirmation hearing, DeVos — who has never worked in education but whose family has donated millions to the Republican Party — seemed uninformed about the education arena and said that some schools needed to have guns on campus to fend off grizzly bears.
Later, DeVos was widely criticized for calling historically black colleges and universities “real pioneers when it comes to school choice” (as opposed to the only options for black students in an era of segregation) and misspelling the name of the civil-rights icon W.E.B. DuBois in an official tweet.
Most infamously, an Easter Snapchat post from DeVos’s agency identified her as “Secretary of Educatuon.”