Glenn McCoy: I drew Betsy DeVos as Ruby Bridges, you can't possibly be more insensitive or tone-deaf than that
Betsy DeVos: hold my beer
— Kelsey D. Atherton (@AthertonKD) February 28, 2017
President Donald Trump’s efforts to bolster relations with historically black colleges erupted in controversy Tuesday after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released a statement equating the history of the schools — founded during an era of racial segregation — to “school choice” policies.
“HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice,” DeVos said in the statement, released Monday night in advance of Trump’s planned signing of an executive order giving the schools more clout. “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 executive order, which Trump signed Tuesday afternoon, was supposed be an easy bit of outreach on the final day of Black History Month to the black community that soundly rejected Trump on Election Day. It moves a federal initiative focused on the colleges from the Education Department to the White House — a move the schools had asked for, hoping it will give them better access to the president.
But the goodwill was quickly overshadowed by DeVos’ statement, which came on the heels of a Monday meeting between Trump and presidents of the schools that left some dissatisfied. Some experts on historically black institutions panned the statement as ignorant, while others said she was inadvertently praising segregation…
“Inadvertently”. Of course.
That's a helluva thing to say about schools that in many cases were founded in response to racial apartheid https://t.co/Sk50y9FaUC
— Mazel Tov Cocktail (@AdamSerwer) February 28, 2017
To paint historically black colleges as pioneers of "school choice" is like saying the Montgomery bus boycott was a transportation startup. https://t.co/DRic6txMU1
— Farhad Manjoo (@fmanjoo) February 28, 2017
… DeVos also seemed to reject one thing the schools are really hoping to get from the administration: More money. One school president told POLITICO that the colleges had asked the White House to back a $25 billion investment in infrastructure improvements on their campuses in their meeting with DeVos Monday. They also advocated for year-round Pell grants and to maintain or increase funding that goes to schools that serve low-income students.
“Rather than focus solely on funding, we must be willing to make the tangible, structural reforms that will allow students to reach their full potential,” DeVos said in her statement…
I wonder what, specifically, DeVos means when she says HBCUs need "structural reforms." https://t.co/SDUeh64QsX
— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) February 28, 2017
This is going to be be an effort to gut public schools & encourage resegregation. I've met conservative Christians who swear by it. https://t.co/7HRf5lEbxn
— Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) February 28, 2017
@clairecmc Will Secretary of Labor now say that slavery was about workplace choice?
— Ted Perlmutter (@tedperl) February 28, 2017