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Education Secretary thinks HBCUs ‘pioneers of school choice’

Betsy Devos

According to BuzzFeed, 31 percent of all voters – and 46 percent of Democrats – say they have an unfavorable opinion of the United States Education Secretary, who was not a national figure until very recently.

The Michigan billionaire has only held the position of Secretary of Education for a few weeks.

According to the Washington Post, she has already “shown herself to be exactly what her critics feared.”

While running the Department of Education, she has managed to insult teachers at a middle school, bash protesters by saying they are “hostile” to change and new ideas, said she would be fine if the department she runs is shut down, complained that critics want “to make [her] life a living hell,” did not participate in the first Twitter chat her department had for teachers on Feb. 21, suggested schools should be able to compensate for troubles that children have at home such as absent fathers, had U.S. marshals protect her after protesters blocked her entrance to a D.C. school door, made a confusing statement about the Common Core State Standards and made crystal clear that a top priority will be pushing for alternatives to traditional public schools, otherwise known as “school choice.”

The latest incident that DeVos is in hot water over is a statement relating the history of black colleges to school choice policies. President Donald Trump and DeVos met with the leaders of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). After the meeting, DeVos released a statement to recap the occasion.

A portion of the statement read: “They started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education,” she wrote. “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.”

Only, “the system,” that “wasn’t working at the time ” some have pointed out, was Jim Crow-era segregation.

Twitter users disagreed with the Education Secretary’s statement and voiced their opinions.

“Wow. DeVos said HBCUs were ‘pioneers of school choice.’ No, Betsy, HBCUs were created because they HAD no choice,” @JordanUhi tweeted, which received hundreds of retweets and likes.

“DeVos saying HBCUs are examples of school choice is like saying the underground railroad is an example of social mobility,” @MajorBeige tweeted.

Critics noted that the schools were indeed necessary because of the Plessy v. Ferguson decision, which allowed racial segregation, thus forcing African- American students into separate schools from white students. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri called the statement “totally nuts” in a tweet.

“Totally nuts. DeVos pretending that establishment of historically black colleges was about choice not racism,» she wrote.

Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who serves as the ranking member of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, also denounced the statement on Twitter. “No, Sec. DeVos- the segregation and inequality that forced the establishment of HBCUs is not a model of ‹school choice,›» he wrote.

After public humiliation and numerous backlash, DeVos began to backpedal.

At a luncheon for school presidents at the Library of Congress, she said: “Bucking that status quo, and providing an alternative option to students denied the right to attend a quality school is the legacy of HBCUs. But your history was born, not out of mere choice, but out of necessity, in the face of racism, and in the aftermath of the Civil War.”

DeVos later published several tweets repeating those sentiments in a continued effort to clear up her earlier comments.


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Education Secretary thinks HBCUs ‘pioneers of school choice’