Why Betsy DeVos' Comments On School Choice Are Offensive To Black Students
Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s secretary of education, gave us all a lesson on just how much one sentence can accomplish.
With one line, DeVos not only managed to offend black students both past and present, but also showed a huge disconnect between DeVos' knowledge base of the education system and her current role under Trump.
The line came in a press release from the US Department of Education, written after leaders from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) visited the White House.
The line of note, in particular, quoted DeVos saying,
HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice.
She then added,
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.
How about, no.
HBCUs are not pioneers for “school choice,” an agenda DeVos just so happens to be pushing in Washington.
The fact she said they WERE shows a terrible misunderstanding of history, at best, for reasons that apparently need reiterating.
Number one: HBCUs were founded because of the direct impact racism had on black students, who should've been welcome at predominantly white institutions (PWIs) in the first place.
Number two: Any attempt to explain HBCU's progression without covering number one is, as one expert on HBCUs referred to as, “a whitewashing of US history.”
Number three: This “whitewashing” makes the concept of “school choice” sound exactly like what people today have reason to fear it is — A round-about way to increase segregation in schools.
If you're skeptical, consider this.
Public schools already have issues with segregation today, and these charts tell the story pretty well.
Forgotten students being forced to study amongst themselves, while the government neglects to ensure they WEREN'T forgotten in the first place, fulfills DeVos' idea of “school choice.”
If that's the case, “school choice” skeptics have reason to be concerned that DeVos' own agenda (taking funds away from public schools, to increase access to private schools) could mean even more forgotten students.
Keep in mind charter schools are run by private entities, that have no sworn duty to the public the way our already-lacking politicians do.
Either DeVos understands all this, and still used HBCUs to prop up her agenda, or she doesn't understand it at all.
With just nine words, President Trump's secretary of education showed why thousands of calls and letters were written to senators before she was confirmed for her job: She's terribly unfit for it.
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