Betsy DeVos was appointed Secretary of Education in the Trump cabinet, despite a lack of qualifications, based upon her work promoting school choice. She wrote a statement which cites segregated schools as an example of what we could get when we have school choice. Politco reports:
“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.”
The executive order, which Trump is scheduled to issue Tuesday afternoon, was supposed be an easy bit of outreach on the final day of Black History Month to the black community that soundly rejected Trump on Election Day. It is expected to move a federal initiative focused on the colleges from the Education Department to the White House and set an aspirational goal for government spending at the schools.
But the goodwill was quickly overshadowed by DeVos’ statement, which came on the heels of a Monday meeting between Trump and presidents of the schools that left some dissatisfied. Some experts on historically black institutions panned the statement as ignorant, while others said she was inadvertently praising segregation.
Maybe such segregated schools would be the choice of segments of Trump voters (the more despicable ones), but black students certainly have never seen this as giving them more options.
At Slate, Ben Mathis-Lilley writes Insane Betsy DeVos Press Release Celebrates Jim Crow Education System as Pioneer of “School Choice”
First of all, it sounds like a seventh-grader wrote this, which is perhaps what happens when you put someone who has never really had a real job in charge of the Department of Education. Second, this official 2017 federal government press release celebrates legal segregation (!!!) on the grounds that the Jim Crow education system gave black students “more options,” as if there was a robust competition between HBCUs and white universities for their patronage. (When black Mississippian James Meredith chose the “option” of enrolling at the University of Mississippi in 1962, a massive white mob formed on the campus; two people were shot to death and hundreds injured in the ensuing battle/riot, during which federal marshals came under heavy gunfire, requiring the ultimate intervention of 20,000 U.S. soldiers and thousands more National Guardsmen.)
I tweeted this before reading the statement by DeVos, but it still holds: Just in case something horrible happens, please don’t let Betsy DeVos be the designated survivor during Trump’s speech to Congress.