The newly appointed Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos is once again causing controversy. DeVos has no experience in teaching, public school administration nor has she or her children ever attended a public school. But yet she is leading an agency tasked with the education of our nation’s children. This week attention in Washington, D.C., turned to the issue of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). DeVos released a statement ahead of President Trump’s HBCU initiative that read”HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.”
The statement showed her level of ignorance on the legacy of HBCUs and exposes her agenda on school choice. Attending an HBCU, which were predominantly started after the Civil War, was not an “alternative choice” it was an only choice for a Black person in the Deep South and other regions in America. Segregation laws forbid the entrance of Black students into White colleges and universities and the establishment of HBCUs such as Morehouse College, Spelman and others were a direct result of this systemic racism. DeVos received backlash on Twitter that led to her to back peddle on her statement. This caused her to post a series of tweets that stated:
“#HBCUs are such an important piece of the fabric of American history—one that encompasses some of our nation’s greatest citizens. Providing an alternative option to students denied the right to attend a quality school is the legacy of #HBCUs. But your history was born not out of mere choice, but out of necessity, in the face of racism, and in the aftermath of the Civil War. HBCUs remain at the forefront of opening doors that had previously been closed to so many. We need more good schools. We need more good teachers. And no child should be denied the opportunity to enter a great school. Not one.” -Secretary of Education Betsy Devos/Twitter Feb. 28, 2017
President Trump’s executive order on HBCUs removes the already established HBCU Initiative office from the administrative authority of Devos and places it directly under the White House.