Betsy DeVos sparks ire by linking historically black colleges with ‘school choice’

Education secretary calls HBCUs real pioneers on conservative issue, despite fact that racist admissions policies elsewhere spurred institutions growth

Betsy DeVos, the controversial newly appointed secretary of education, is facing scorn on Capitol Hill and around the country after releasing a statement that compared the emergence of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), amid pervasive and overt racial exclusion, with the battle for school choice.

In a statement tied to a listening session with HBCU leaders, DeVos said HBCUs are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality.

HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice, the statement said.

DeVos appeared to by trying to make the point, popular with conservatives, that when schools operate in a marketplace, they tend to fill the otherwise unserved needs of students.

To many the intended argument didnt survive the contradiction of associating HBCUs, born out of necessity when black Americans were almost uniformly barred from existing universities by racist admittance policies, with the idea of choice.

Yesterdays attempt to whitewash the the stain of segregation into an argument for privatizing our public schools is perhaps a new low in her current position, said the Michigan congressman John Conyers, who also called the statement shocking and insulting.

Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee)

Tone-deaf, uninformed statement from DeVos. #HBCUs werent more options for black students for many years, they were the ONLY option. pic.twitter.com/fD58rXpHIt

February 28, 2017

Major Beige (@MajorBeige)

DeVos saying HBCUs are examples of school choice is like saying the underground railroad is an example of social mobility.

February 28, 2017

The comparison was also awkward because the issue of school choice virtually always refers not to colleges but to K-12 education where, traditionally, students are assigned to a public school district according to their address.

School choice is at the foundation of DeVoss public education agenda. The billionaire education secretary, with no formal background in the field, has long been a proponent of allowing parents to opt out of public schools. Most experts in the field counter that school voucher systems and other similar programs tend to exacerbate the unequal distribution of educational resources. These schemes do nothing to help our most vulnerable students while they ignore or exacerbate glaring opportunity gaps, argued the National Education Association in November in reaction to her nomination by Donald Trump.

Nikole Hannah Jones, a reporter who has written extensively on school segregation, added that much of the contemporary conservative rhetoric about school choice is actually a function of the same racist, segregationist impulses that made HBCUs necessary in the 19th-century US. In many places in the country, the push for school choice has been pioneered by white parents seeking ways to remove their children from integrated or predominantly black public schools.

Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones)

HBCUs arose because white schools did not want, refused to enroll black students. School choice, vouchers, arose from EXACT same thing.

February 28, 2017

DeVoss statement comes, somewhat ironically, as Trump signs an executive order to relocate the White House Initiative on HBCUs, a program that has existed since 1980, to the White House. It had previously been administered by DeVoss Department of Education, but will now be led by an official who reports to a senior adviser to the president.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/28/betsy-devos-hbcus-school-choice-education-race

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s