Betsy DeVos calls historically black colleges pioneers of school choice, sparks outrage

"[HBCUs] started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education".

She praised the schools for taking action after the system was identified as 'an absence of opportunity'.

Before Black History Month could come to a close, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos had to get in some final misguided words about the country's historically black colleges and universities.

Betsy DeVos and the billionaires she represents view public education as a profit-making venture instead of a fundamental democratic right.

Other policies still in the works focus on diverting more money to school choice programs, which would cut funding from many public and low-performing schools, with the current estimated amount of the grant being $20 billion. Spicer instead seemed to imply that funding for HBCUs, which is now spread throughout the federal government, should be unified in a "pipeline" to the White House.

DeVos made the comment in a meeting with dozens of HBCU presidents who had met with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office Monday.

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Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are institutions that were established prior to 1964 and have the principal mission of educating Black Americans. The HBCU system has its roots in racial segregation, arising from the practical unavailability of higher education for black students in the years after the Civil War. As a clear advocate for charter schools and private institutions, Devos has a transparent position on public schools.

US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been accused of ignorance for suggesting colleges set up for black students are "pioneers of choice".

Historian Marybeth Gasman confirmed numerous HBCUs "started in church basements... in old schoolhouses... in people's homes" and were initially established to "provide just basic primary and secondary education" to freed slaves and their children. Trump signed an executive order aimed at boosting HBCUs Tuesday afternoon. They were a response to racist Jim Crow laws that enforced segregation in the South.

"In 1904, with nothing more than $1.50 in her pocket and a vision and determination in her soul, Mary built a school from scratch to serve African-American children", DeVos said.

"Yesterday's 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 MI congressman John Conyers, who also called the statement "shocking and insulting". However, proponents of school choice argue that despite increasing education budgets, the gap between white and black students continues to grow. As of February 7, their anticipation was over -- the 11th Secretary of Education position was filled by Betsy DeVos.

  • Sonia Alvarado