Donald Trump’s education secretary proved she is spectacularly unfit for her job when she released a statement on her department’s website praising historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as “real pioneers when it comes to school choice.”
In some ways, this is an accurate statement. White people, for example, “chose” to exclude black people from educational opportunities, so if African-Americans wanted education they needed to “choose” to form their own schools.
“They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality,” she continued, failing to note that the difference in quality started with “no education” thanks to the racist Jim Crow-era education system. “Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.”
Their success is an example of the great things that can happen when people band together to overcome adversity, but HBCUs have nothing to do with “school choice” as DeVos claims.
Naturally, people were quick to point out the extreme racism that was behind DeVos’ statement.
@nktpnd betsy devos: "rosa parks is a real pioneer when it comes to seat choice"
— Sam Deutsch (@samdman95) February 28, 2017
Betsy DeVos said HBCUs were about school choice. As if white/colored water fountains were about beverage options. pic.twitter.com/I3tNlER43n
— Resist Dystopia (@AynAyahSteenkur) February 28, 2017
Next Betsy DeVos will praise slaves for being "entrepreneurial self starters"
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) February 28, 2017
Betsy DeVos's sees HBCUs as pioneers of "school choice," as if black students had a "choice" to go to white colleges in segregated America. pic.twitter.com/75YKvjB70x
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) February 28, 2017
DeVos either is either ignorant or twisted. #HBCUs weren't created bc of choice. It was bc we couldn't get into white institutions.
— Taalib S (@TaalibSpeaks) February 28, 2017
let's be clear, "school choice" is really a post Brown v. Board Southern reaction to integration. that Devos adopts this is sickening.
— profloumoore (@loumoore12) February 28, 2017
Furthermore, what's sad about this DeVos press release is it connects a racist US history with school choice.
— Reggie Cunningham (@kidnoble) February 28, 2017
— Denzel (@DenzAnton_) February 28, 2017
this is an actual serious question. Does Betsy DeVos know that Jim Crow happened?
— Vann R. Newkirk II (@fivefifths) February 28, 2017
Holy. Shit. DeVos called creation of Historically Black Colleges & Universities a matter of "school choice." No. The opposite. THE OPPOSITE. pic.twitter.com/4T55gkNVgG
— Dorothy Snarker (@dorothysnarker) February 28, 2017
“Historically black colleges and universities — those institutions of higher education founded prior to 1964 with the principal mission of educating black Americans excluded from segregated public and private universities — have never enjoyed levels of public funding comparable with other institutions,” Politico notes in a feature on historically black schools. “This persistent inequality has led some states, including Maryland and Mississippi, to be sued for failing to fund black and white public colleges at equal levels.”
These schools were the only option for many people. That isn’t “choice” — that’s a problem, and we will likely never see Mc. DeVos acknowledge this.
featured image via Getty Images (Drew Angerer)/screengrab