Historical Black Colleges Weren’t Founded For “School Choice”

Historical Black Colleges Weren’t Founded For “School Choice”

August 21, 2019 8 By Stanley Isaacs


SECRETARY OF EDUCATION BETSY
DEVOS HAD AN INTERESTING WAY OF ATTEMPTING TO PRAISE
HISTORICALLY BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES AFTER A MEETING AT
THE WHITE HOUSE EARLIER TODAY. HERE IS A SECTION OF HER
COMMENTS, SHE PUT OUT A STATEMENT ABOUT THIS SAYING — LET’S
PAUSE FOR ONE SECOND, ALREADY SHE’S SAYING FUNDING THE SCHOOLS, OKAY, THAT’S SOMETHING,
BUT LET’S NOT FOCUS TOO MUCH ON GIVING THEM ADDITIONAL FUNDS —
BUT THEN SHE PIVOTS TO HISTORICALLY BLACK COLLEGES
AND UNIVERSITIES. SHE SAYS — — SHE DOESN’T LOOK INTO WHY
THEY DIDN’T HAVE ACCESS, THE ACCESS TO IT WASN’T THERE — YES, I GUESS IT IS MORE
OPTIONS, TO HAVE AN OPTION TO GO TO A SCHOOL. BECAUSE OF COURSE
AFTER THE CIVIL WAR, WITH JIM CROW AND THE BLACK CODES AND ALL
THAT, IN MANY PLACES THEY WEREN’T ALLOWED TO GO TO ANY
OTHER UNIVERSITIES. THAT IS WHY THOSE UNIVERSITIES STARTED. SO
TO TAKE THAT HISTORY, TO STRIP ALL THE RACIAL CONNOTATIONS, TO
TAKE THE ONUS OFF OF THOSE WHO BANNED AFRICAN-AMERICANS FROM
GOING TO SCHOOLS, TO PUSH THAT TO FRAME YOUR IDEA OF SCHOOL
CHOICE, THAT SEEMS UNWISE AND SHE WAS ROASTED FOR IT. RIGHTFULLY SO. BUT I WANT TO
POINT OUT THAT IT IS INTERESTING THAT EVEN IN A SITUATION WHERE
REPRESENTATIVES AND PRESIDENTS FROM BLACK UNIVERSITIES AND
COLLEGES ARE COMING TO THE WHITE HOUSE TO MEET TRUMP, EVEN IN
THAT SITUATION SHE TRIES TO FIND A WAY TO SNEAK IN THE SCHOOL
CHOICE. WHICH AGAIN IS VERY THINLY VEILED LANGUAGE FOR I
WANT TO PRIVATIZE EVERYTHING, RIGHT? WHEN IT COMES TO
PRIVATIZING PUBLIC SCHOOLS IT’S VERY DIFFERENT FROM THE
CONVERSATION WE ARE HAVING REGARDING HISTORICALLY BLACK
COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES. AS JOHN MENTIONED, THEY WERE
ESTABLISHED BECAUSE BLACK STUDENTS DID NOT HAVE A CHOICE,
BECAUSE OF SEGREGATION. AND LUCKILY THERE WERE INSTITUTIONS
OF HIGHER LEARNING WHERE THEY COULD GO TO. BUT THEY’VE BEEN
HISTORICALLY UNDERFUNDED AND UNDERVALUED BY OUR POLITICIANS,
AND THAT’S AN ONGOING PROBLEM. IT HAPPENED IN MARYLAND,
MISSISSIPPI — THAT’S SOMETHING WE SHOULD KEEP IN MIND. AND THE PRELUDE TO THOSE
STATEMENTS ABOUT THE HCBUs, SHE SAID FUNDING ISN’T THE BIGGEST
DEAL IN THE WORLD — BUT THAT HAS BEEN A PROBLEM FOR THOSE
UNIVERSITIES FOR DECADES AND DECADES. I DON’T KNOW IF SHE
KNOWS THAT, I DON’T KNOW IF SHE’S SORT OF COVERING UP THAT HISTORY
TO AID HER IN PURSUING THE EDUCATION POLICY SHE WANTS, OR
IF, MUCH MORE LIKELY, SHE KNOWS THEY ARE HISTORICALLY BLACK BUT
PROBABLY DOESN’T KNOW WHAT THAT REPRESENTS OR WHAT THAT MEANS. AND I KNOW FROM MY TIME AS A T.A. AND DOING A LITTLE WORK AS
A PROFESSOR, YOU MIGHT HAVE SEEN THIS AS WELL, IS THAT WHEN THESE
SORTS OF ISSUES COME UP, FOR MOST PEOPLE, AND I DON’T WANT TO
STEREOTYPE, THEY KNOW SO LITTLE ABOUT WHAT THESE REPRESENT. AND
OFTEN IF HCBUs COME UP IN CONVERSATION, THE ONLY COMMENT
IS, THE GET TO HAVE SCHOOLS WHERE ONLY BLACK PEOPLE GO, WHY
CAN’T WE HAVE SCHOOLS WITH ONLY WHITE PEOPLE? OF COURSE WHITE PEOPLE HAVE
ALWAYS BEEN ABLE TO GO TO THOSE SCHOOLS, THAT OFTEN GOES
OVER PEOPLE’S HEADS. EVERYONE SHOULD PAY ATTENTION
TO WHAT BETSY DEVOS HAS TO SAY ABOUT FUNDING INVOLVING HIGHER
EDUCATION, BECAUSE A LOT OF FOCUS HAS BEEN ON WHAT SHE DID
WITH PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN MICHIGAN, AND THE REALITY IS SHE HAS VERY
LIMITED POWER WHEN IT COMES TO GREAT SCHOOLS. THE STATES ARE
REALLY IN CHARGE OF ALLOCATING FUNDS FOR SCHOOLS. SO WHETHER OR
NOT A STATE PRIVATIZES ITS SCHOOLS OR TRANSFORMS THEM INTO
CHARTERS, THAT IS REALLY UP TO STATE LAWMAKERS AND WE SHOULD
PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THAT AS WELL. BUT WHAT BETSY DEVOS HAS
TO SAY ABOUT COLLEGES MATTERS. SHE HAS BEEN A PROPONENT OF
FOR-PROFIT COLLEGES WHO HAVE SCAMMED AND DEFRAUDED STUDENTS,
SHE’S BEEN IN FAVOR OF CUTTING FUNDING TO SOME COLLEGES AND
UNIVERSITIES THAT ARE PUBLICLY FUNDED, SO WE HAVE TO PAY
ATTENTION TO THAT AND HOLD HER ACCOUNTABLE FOR HER ACTIONS
BECAUSE IF WE ARE HAVING ISSUES WITH STUDENT LOAN DEBT NOW,
I THINK THAT IT WOULD JUST COMPLETELY EXPLODE UNDER SOMEONE
LIKE BETSY DEVOS. AS YOU SAID, PEOPLE NEED TO
HOLD HER ACCOUNTABLE, AND PEOPLE DID AT THE VERY LEAST
ON SOCIAL MEDIA, AND IMMEDIATELY SHE NOTICED. SHE PUT OUT A RESPONSE, SAYING
— AND THERE SHE SAYS DENIED THE
RIGHT TO ATTEND A QUALITY SCHOOL, THAT IS GOOD. BUT SHE
ALSO SAYS — THERE SHE IS DOING A BETTER
JOB THAN MOST IN THE ADMINISTRATION HAVE DONE IN
RESPONDING TO CRITICISM IN A SUBSTANTIVE WAY. INSTEAD OF, YOU
KNOW, PEOPLE SAYING TRUMP, YOU ARE NOT ACKNOWLEDGING THE
MASSIVE RISE IN ANTI-SEMITIC THREATS, HE COMES OUT TODAY AND
SAYS IT’S PROBABLY THE REVERSE, IT’S PROBABLY THOSE LIBS DOING
IT, BUT THIS IS A DECENT RESPONSE. IT DOESN’T MATTER AS
MUCH AS WHAT SHE DOES IN TERMS OF POLICY, BUT IT IS SOMETHING. BUT I WANTED TO MENTION THE MEETING, THE STATEMENT CAME
AFTER A MEETING WITH A NUMBER OF THE PRESIDENTS OF COLLEGES AND
UNIVERSITIES MEETING WITH TRUMP, I KNOW SOME PEOPLE ARE SAYING
THEY SHOULDN’T HAVE MET WITH HIM, BUT THEY NEED TO PROTECT
THEIR SCHOOLS AND POSSIBLY HAVE INFLUENCE WHERE THEY CAN SO I’M
SYMPATHETIC WITH THEM, BUT SOME LEFT THAT MEETING NOT HAVING A
GOOD EXPERIENCE. WE HAVE QUOTES FROM THE PRESIDENT OF DILLARD
UNIVERSITY IN NEW ORLEANS, SAYING — HE GOES ON TO SAY — THIS IS
FROM THE COMMENTS HE WAS GOING TO MAKE HAD HE HAD MORE THAN 60
SECONDS — THOSE ARE IMPORTANT
CONTEXTUAL THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW, IF YOU ARE GOING TO
ATTEMPT TO, AS BETSY DEVOS SAYS, MAKE HCBUs PART OF YOUR
EDUCATION POLICY. IS SHE AWARE OF THIS? WILL SHE TRY TO FIX
THOSE PROBLEMS? WE DON’T KNOW, SHE DIDN’T TWEET ABOUT IT.