President Donald Trump’s new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has gotten more than she bargained for after buying her cabinet position. DeVos, a long-time advocate of charter schools and “school choice,” decided to use Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) to score political points and make a case for her agenda. However, her plan (as is usually the case with most plans from this administration) backfired and blew up in her face.
In a letter, released on Monday, DeVos called HBCUs “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 great quality,” DeVos said in a statement. “Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.”
— Yukio Strachan (@boldandworthy) February 28, 2017
DeVos’ comments arrive ahead of a meeting this week in Washington between representatives from HBCUs across the country and Republican lawmakers. Trump is expected to sign an executive order concerning those institutions on Tuesday. However, DeVos’ remarks immediately sparked a backlash from HBCU supporters who were quick to point out DeVos’ ignorance regarding the history of those institutions.
DeVos’ whitewashed history of HBCUs conveniently ignored the fact that when HBCUs were formed, African-American students did not have a “choice” as to where they could receive their higher education, due to a little-known law called Jim Crow.
The good people of Twitter were quick to educate the “Education Secretary” about the real history behind HBCUs and how little it had to do with “school choice.”
Two of the harshest comments mocked DeVos’ “alternative” history.
Betsy DeVos said HBCUs were about school choice. As if white/colored water fountains were about beverage options. pic.twitter.com/I3tNlER43n
— Pièce de Résistance (@PieceDeReSister) February 28, 2017
betsy devos: "rosa parks is a real pioneer when it comes to seat choice"
— Samuel ? (@samdman95) February 28, 2017
I don't know if I should laugh out loud, or cry and snort. Or both.
— Juan Pasalagua (@jpasalagua) February 28, 2017
Brendan Nyhan, a professor who teaches political science at Dartmouth University, exposed how DeVos’ statement appears to contradict public information on her own department’s website. Oops.
Betsy DeVos on HBCUs as "school choice" vs. basic historical facts about segregation on her own department's website pic.twitter.com/b6fs5v78W0
— Brendan Nyhan (@BrendanNyhan) February 28, 2017
News One‘s Roland Martin just couldn’t hold back his anger toward DeVos and her ignorance and proceeded to demolish the unqualified Secretary in an absolutely brutal rant.
Aside from DeVos’ background as a person who grew the daughter of a billionaire and who later went on to marry a billionaire. DeVos also has deep background and affiliations with the Religious Right. According to Right Wing Watch:
“DeVos and other members of her family have given massive amounts of money to build the Religious Right and right-wing political infrastructure..”
Many people are unaware that the issue which brought about the formation of the Religious Right as a major force in American politics wasn’t abortion, but rather segregation. As Samantha Bee once said:
“Good old nativism and anti-government anger when the IRS challenged the evangelicals God given right to go to school without black people.”
That’s correct, the Religious Right began kicking up a stink only after the all-white ultra-conservative Christian College known as Bob Jones University was threatened with removal of its tax-exempt status by the IRS if it did not comply with the 1954 Brown V. Board of Education Supreme Court decision which ordered all schools and universities to desegregate.
If DeVos is aware of this history, it may be understandable why she would want to dance around the issue of segregation. However, that’s likely giving her too much credit, as her ignorance has been exposed time and time again during her Senate confirmation hirings. One of the most memorable displays of DeVos’ astounding incompetence took place when Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) questioned the billionaire. The exchange between the senator and DeVos almost made you feel sorry for her. Here’s the video.
DeVos funneled Trump millions of dollars for her a cabinet position that she’s infinitely unqualified to have. But her ignorance, regarding the history of HBCUs, is indicative all-white ultra-conservative. DeVos may mean well, but her ignorance will ultimately hurt millions of America’s children, but perhaps that’s what the GOP (who advocates for the elimination of DeVos’ department) had in mind when they gave her the job.
Featured image via YouTube.