Morning Movie Date With Ivanka Trump and Everything Else Betsy DeVos Has Been Up To Since Controversially Taking Office

DeVos's confirmation as Secretary of Education was a controversial one

DeVos, Ivanka Trump Meet With Students at Air and Space Museum

Two of the Trump administration’s most prominent women, first daughter Ivanka Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, made an appearance together Tuesday morning in honor of Women’s History Month.

The pair were joined by NASA astronaut Kay Hire at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, to celebrate and support women in science, technology, engineering and math — also known as STEM — fields with a special screening of the Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures.

The appearance by Trump and DeVos was relatively low-key, with none of the star-power former First Lady Michelle Obama commanded last December when she hosted a viewing of Hidden Figures with A-list cast members Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe and Kevin Costner. But, against the backdrop of President Trump’s proposed budget cuts, which, according to The Washington Post, would eliminate the $115 million NASA Education office, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten slammed the space museum outing as nothing but a showy photo-op.

“Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Ivanka Trump are feigning an interest in STEM careers with a photo op at the National Air and Space Museum while eliminating all funding for NASA’s education programs,” Weingarten said. “This takes chutzpah to a new level. If this administration was genuinely interested in promoting STEM programs, it would walk the walk, not just talk the talk. The next generation of astronauts, scientists, engineers and mathematicians need support, not budget cuts eliminating the very programs being promoted.”

The NASA education office on Trump’s chopping block ‘s provides internships and scholarships for young scientists, and oversees initiatives supporting women and underrepresented minorities in the STEM fields.

Criticism of Tuesday’s event is only the latest bump for Secretary DeVos, whose position at the helm of the Education Department was hotly controversial even before her appointment was confirmed by the Senate. Several gaffes from her contentious confirmation hearings went viral, including one in which she cited potential grizzly bear attacks as a reason for allowing guns in schools. She got the Cabinet post only after Vice President Mike Pence broke the 50-50 split vote among senators split on her confirmation.

And there were more buzzed-about bumps in the road even after DeVos took office.

On her first school visit as Education secretary, she was met by a small handful of protestors at a back door and blocked from entering the school. After a meeting with administrators and professors from several historically black colleges and universities (HBCU), she lauded them as pioneers of school choice. DeVos is a champion of so-called school choice, which redirects federal funds from public schools to use as vouchers for families who choose to send their children to private or parochial schools.

Speaking of historically black colleges in a Feb. 27 statement, DeVos called the colleges and universities “living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and great quality,” DeVos said in a statement. “Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.” Critics sharply criticized her statement for “whitewashing” the historical context from which these institutions of higher learning were born—namely the legacy of slavery and segregation that kept black students out of historically white colleges.

As Marybeth Gasman, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Minority-Serving Institutions, questioned that day in a tweet to DeVos: “Why are you #Whitewashing #HBCU history? Forget abt slavery, Jim Crow, segregation?

Even DeVos’s own first tweet in office was met with backlash. Some who felt her confirmation hearings laid bare her ignorance of basic education policy did not find humor in her first-day joking, “Day 1 on the job is done, but we’re only getting started. Now where do I find the pencils? :)”

It didn’t help that, four days later, a Department of Education tweet misspelled the name W.E.B. Du Bois.

And judging by some of the responses to NASA’s tweet celebrating the DeVos and Trump event on Tuesday—”Gross…and on the day they are gutting the EPA and ignoring the climate research NASA did,” wrote Twitter user blp ; “Since when does@BetsyDeVosED believe in science? Or education?” asked @Sherlock_Scones—the secretary’s detractors are not ready to cut her any slack.

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