A number of HBCUs have received bomb threats in recent years. On May 31, the Biden-Harris administration distributed grants to four HBCUs that received threats last year. Texas Southern received $191,962, Delaware State received $217,000, Claflin University received $440,000 and Howard University received $203,000. The grants are under Project School Emergency Response to Violence, otherwise known as Project SERV.
Other HBCUs that have previously received SERV grants are Tougaloo College, Fayetteville State University, Southern University Law Center, Fisk University, Coppin State University, North Carolina Central University, Philander Smith College and Hampton University.
Secretary Miguel Cardona spoke to rolling out about the purpose of the grants and the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts assisting HBCUs.
Why are funds being distributed to these schools?
Our students have gone through enough. The last thing they need is another disruption. To have it [be] racially motivated, threatening our HBCUs, we don’t stand for that.
There should be no college campus, or school in general, where students should feel unsafe. We wanted to make sure we were there for our HBCUs the way they’ve been there for our students.
Why do you think these threats even happened?
Sadly, there are a lot of people out there that feed off hate. I can’t get into the mind of somebody that will do that, but what I can tell you is that to me education is the answer. Make sure our students understand through higher education, there are different thought processes. Just because you disagree with someone, doesn’t mean you hate them. This one seemed racially based, so to me, there’s no rationalizing anything that’s going through that person’s head other than they did it intentionally to create fear. They failed because HBCUs have the support of the federal government, and … we go after the folks that are doing this nonsense.
What is the Department of Education doing to decrease the drop-out rate for Black and Brown students?
One of the first things I said when I got here was, “We have to stop normalizing achievement gaps. We have to stop normalizing opportunity gaps.”
Black and Brown kids perform lower than their White counterparts. We’ve normalized that in this country and that’s unacceptable. We need to make sure, not only through our talk, but through our actions that we’re supporting Black and Brown students. That means in the K12 space, we’re providing additional funds for Title I schools, and these are the schools that need a little bit more dollars.
We’re providing dollars for wrap-around support, family engagement. We’re providing dollars to make sure our students have the mental health support they need. Reading teachers, math coaches and tutors, more dollars to schools that need it the most.
In higher education, we’re fixing a broken system. The student loan plan we have that the Supreme Court is looking at 42 percent of Black borrowers would have a zero balance if this goes through. Tell me this administration is not looking out for our Black and Brown students.