Betsy DeVos admits her HBCU comment was wrong

By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America (Betsy DeVos) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America (Betsy DeVos) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Andrew Pillow

Earlier this year Betsy DeVos made a controversial comment about Historically Black Colleges and Universities. She said that HBCUs were an early example of school choice:

“HBCUs are 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 greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.”

Seeing as how HBCU’s were quite literally the product of segregation which is the opposite of choice, this comment drew the ire of the black community.

DeVos now admits that comment was off base. In an interview with The Associated Press she acknowledges that HBCUs did not originate from choice. She said "racism was rampant and there were no choices”. She also said that she "should have decried much more forcefully the ravages of racism in this country."

INDY/ED touched on the origin of black institutions of higher learning in the article Betsy DeVos’s remark about HBCUs isn’t just a mistake… it's revisionist history.:

“In the 1890s the second Morrill Land-Grant Act specified that states using federal higher education funds must provide an education to black students, either by opening the doors of their public universities to African Americans, or by establishing schools specifically to serve them.
Rather than integrate their public institutions, many Southern states created a completely separate set of institutions serving African Americans. Thus were born many of the South’s public black colleges.” (Source: American Radio Works)

It looks like Betsy DeVos has learned that history over the past year too.

Read more here. (Time)

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Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.