Betsy DeVos applauds historically segregated schools as 'pioneers of school choice'

Jaime Mckinney
March 4, 2017

With a GOP-led Congress in the process of drafting the federal budget, some lawmakers are unsure if the executive order will lead to actual change. It was officially titled Presidential Executive Order on The White House Initiative to Promote Excellence and Innovation at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. However, the move could also have the unintended outcome of prioritizing the political functions of the office (e.g., clarifying Trump's positions on HBCUs and other higher education issues) over the very important administrative functions (e.g., creating and locating opportunities for HBCUs across the federal government). Trump's order creates a board of advisors on HBCUs that reports to him as well as effectively moves HBCU programs to the executive office instead of the Department of Education. The organization had made both requests of the Obama administration.

Langston made the point that HBCUs have "contributed significantly" to the Black middle-class and represent over 370,000 college students.

Since Trump signed the executive order, some HBCU presidents have taken the opposite approach of Paige.

According to DeVos, HBCUs came about because there were "too many students in America who did not have equal access to education".

Dr. John Silvanus Wilson Jr., president of Morehouse College, says he was disappointed after leaving the meeting on Tuesday at the White House with several HBCU presidents and President Donald Trump.

Beverly Wade Hogan, president of Tougaloo College, a private HBCU in MS, called last week's trip to Washington a good start and said the discussions should continue. But not everyone saw much substance in the meetings that kicked off the visit to D.C.

The college leaders also met with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

"HBCU's are in a very critical space right now everyone is having financial struggles but we need some kind of help "says Sumlin". After the Civil War, black preachers and white philanthropists built colleges-most were glorified grammar and high schools across the South to educate newly freed slaves. And Pell Grants received verbal support, even from House Speaker Paul Ryan, who joined the two organizers for a live Facebook Q&A event. "And that was significant", said Williams. Unfortunately, as evidenced by the statement she released immediately after the session, she didn't appear to have listened to anything they said.

Students at Cheyney University were also skeptical of Trump's meeting with HBCU leaders. The black-oriented website noted, "In a nutshell, Trump's executive order does not strongly depart from an order signed by the Obama administration in 2009".

The White House is expected to unveil an outline of its budget later this month. Then, this week, the observances concluded with his education secretary revealing her lack of knowledge about the history of black colleges. In her statement, she cited HBCUs as "real pioneers when it comes to school choice". The department did not respond to an inquiry about the anger over the initial statement. But Taylor told reporters that those reforms can't happen without improved funding for colleges and universities. You see this a lot among African-Americans and Latinos. "And we didn't see it before". Most of the 104 HBCU presidents attended, including all presidents from the Georgia-based HBCUs.

After Howard University President Wayne Frederick hosted DeVos on campus three weeks ago, students there protested.

President Trump sought to exploit HBCU presidents, using them as the cutting edge of a wedge issue.

The HBCU leaders had asked the Trump administration to move the initiative out of the DOE purview into the White House and to steer at least 5% of higher education spending on grants and 10% of government contracts to their institutions.

"The proof in the pudding is going be the dollars", she said.

With Savannah State in its 127th-year, President Dozier says it's important to let your voice be heard, advocating for the needs of the students and the university.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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