Betsy DeVos, Education, Racism — February 28, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Betsy DeVos declares Historically Black Colleges & Universities the “real pioneers when it comes to school choice”


In the aftermath of the American Civil War, black Americans found themselves unable to attend colleges and universities because they simply were not allowed entrance into them. In response, they were forced to form their own institutions of higher education. These institutions are now referred to as Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs).

Today, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos issued this statement, attempting to justify her anti-public education efforts – euphemistically dubbed “school choice” – by declaring HBCUs the “real pioneers when it comes to school choice”:

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released the following statement after meeting with presidents and chancellors of Historically Black Colleges and Universities at the White House:

A key priority for this administration is to help develop opportunities for communities that are often the most underserved. 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.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have done this since their founding. They started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education. They saw that the system wasn’t working, that there was an absence of opportunity, so they took it upon themselves to provide the solution.

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.

Their counsel and guidance will be crucial in addressing the current inequities we face in education. I look forward to working with the White House to elevate the role of HBCUs in this administration and to solve the problems we face in education today.

This is an insulting rewriting of history. HBCUs weren’t formed because black Americans didn’t have “equal access” to education or because they were “underserved”. They were formed because racist Jim Crow laws made it so black Americans didn’t have ANY access to education and went UNserved, both in schools and elsewhere in society. HBCUs were literally a response to institutionalized racism in America.

Today, that racism, while not generally explicitly codified, continues in the realm of education. If you want to map poverty levels across our country, you simply need to map student test scores. There is an inverse correlation between family income rates of poverty and student test scores. And, more often than not, the people most impacted by poorly performing schools are people of color. This isn’t because they aren’t intellectually capable of doing well in school. It’s because of centuries-old policies that disinvest in schools in poor areas, areas where black Americans tended to live due to Jim Crow-era laws, redlining, and other discriminatory policies.

These are the very same areas Betsy DeVos most often targets for exploitation through her odious “school choice” agenda.

It’s hard to put into words just how disgusting it is to see Betsy DeVos use an example of black Americans overcoming institutionalized racism to justify her lifelong effort to funnel tax dollars into private, often religious private schools. She’s attempting to co-opt a remarkable American achievement and use it to justify policies that hurt the very same group of people HBCUs were set up to help.

And it apparently never even occurred to her that this is what she was doing.

  • pat greeley

    It is amazing to hear the utter stupidity of this woman…before secEd her absolute lack of brains was known but to her family & friends. Now the whole world knows…great job Bets, now go buy your husband that “I’m with Stoopid” t-shirt…

    • Lysander Kutsara

      Civility will benefit a movement far more than vulgarity.

      • pat greeley

        Nah the DeVos crime family has done too much damage to Michigan to warrant civility

      • teele

        Vulgarity put Donald Trump in the White House. Seems like a benefit to the right wing movement. Oops, I forgot, IOKIYAR.

        • Lysander Kutsara

          It’s NEVER “ok” and references to party affiliation is a bit out of date, but regardless, it’s fallacious to imply that because it’s claimed that it “worked” for someone else it’s now a credible style of discourse. Public vulgarity is disgusting, no matter the venue or the source.

    • judyms9

      Ms. DeVos has some glaring lapses in her history course work. Does she really think Blacks were seizing on choice to get those extra drinking fountains, hotels and diners?

      • teele

        Ms. DeVos is, sadly, a fine example of private religious education. Had she attended public schools, she might have had the opportunity to develop any nascent intellectual curiosity she might possess. Ignorance, gullibility and narrow-mindedness are often byproducts of private educations, chosen by parents to perpetuate their own parochial worldviews.
        This person now has the opportunity to destroy the minds of coming generations. The outcome will another Dark Age.

        • Lysander Kutsara

          Not many believe that she’s qualified, but her lack of qualification has nothing to do with her formal education. Learning is a life-long endeavor and the K-12 portion is a minor aspect. She and everyone else is responsible for the years following age 18. In a truly free country, a single formal K-12 educational system will have the same result that you obviously despise.

  • Jim Crow is just another name for School Choice to DeVos.
    I hate these people so much.

  • Mike Reade

    The fact that this was an official PRESS RELEASE is simply mind boggling. Anyone who has worked in PR or communications knows that any press release – especially one coming from one of the top offices in the federal government – has to be approved and revised a number of times. The fact that this blatantly ignorant comment went unchecked is yet another example of the stunning incompetence of this administration.

  • A2er

    The kind of thinking and reasoning that would expect from the Amway crime family.