President Donald Trump’s efforts to bolster relations with historically black colleges erupted in controversy Tuesday after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released a statement equating the history of the schools — founded during an era of racial segregation — to “school choice” policies.
“HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice,” DeVos said in the statement, released Monday night in advance of Trump’s planned signing of an executive order giving the schools more clout. “They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.”
Now, DeVos's statement only makes sense if you completely ignore the fact that HBCUs were founded in response to American collegiate apartheid. Literally, these colleges were founded because black students were not allowed to go to white colleges and universities in the Jim Crow era. In 1962 when James Meredith attended Ole Miss, it led to statewide riots and more than 30,000 National Guard troops called into action to deal with them.
What it had nothing to do with was "school choice" policies. Why DeVos would choose to so viciously and stupidly gaslight away a century of black history, well that's what the Trump regime does, guys. Everything was really great back in the Jim Crow south, and black people even had their own colleges!
DeVos also seemed to reject one thing the schools are really hoping to get from the administration: More money. One school president told POLITICO that the colleges had asked the White House to back a $25 billion investment in infrastructure improvements on their campuses in their meeting with DeVos Monday. They also advocated for year-round Pell grants and to maintain or increase funding that goes to schools that serve low-income students.
“Rather than focus solely on funding, we must be willing to make the tangible, structural reforms that will allow students to reach their full potential,” DeVos said in her statement.
Tangible structural reforms, huh. But no money to pay for them.
If you want to know what's coming for K-12 education for American kids under the Trump regime, look at the way HBCUs are treated. It's an era where the framework of segregation by class and race already exists. Imagine your school district becoming Ivy League white schools, and HBCUs for black students. That's what's coming. And like DeVos and HBCUs now, it will be sold as "pioneering school choice" when of course, the actual choice part won't exist.