Betsy DeVos and the Fate of HBCUs

By Sandra Glover

 

Since Nov. 7., President Trump’s nominee Betsy Devos for Sectary of Education has been met with massive criticism about her “biased” views of education and her intentions for the education system  in the United States.

For decades, billionaire major-republican donor and advocate for school choice Betsy DeVos has spent her career supporting the direction of taxpayers money into vouchers for private schools and the expansion of public funding for privately run schools.

Upon hearing President Trump’s choice for Sectary of Education,  The ACLU of Michigan encouraged the congress to investigate DeVos records, where they brought light to her school vouchers which are  “a misguided idea that diverts taxpayer dollars into private and parochial schools and perverts the bedrock American value of separation of church and state.”

Many fear that the Donald Trump’s choice of appointing DeVos Sectary of Education is placing the expansion of taxpayer-funded charter schools and vouchers for private and religious schools at the center of his national agenda on education, and as a result ignoring the needs of the American public schools.

During the Senate Confirmation hearing, DeVos was grilled with various questions about United States Educational system. It was brought to light that she has very little knowledge on K-12 Public Schools because of her direct involvement in private schooling, which her and her family are products of.

During her questioning senator Warren, a former Professor at Harvard Law School, explained to DeVos the role as Sectary of Education, “the Department of Education is in charge of making sure that $150 billion dollars that we invest in students gets into the right hands and that students have the support to pay back their students loans….essentially responsible of managing a $1 trillion dollars student loans bank and distributing 30 billion dollars of PELL grants a year”.

When asked by from Senator Warren  about the position to now holds as Sectary of Education, DeVos stated that has no experience in banking and handling trillions or billions of dollars or any large amount. When asked if she had any experience of need with financing for higher education such as taking out and loan or the PELL grant for herself or her students, she answered no.

Senator Warren continued to question DeVos on how she would prevent waste fraud and abuse from for-profit universities; DeVos did not have any set plans or even basic ideas about how to protect students for fraud universities.

After questioning DeVos on her plans of approach against waste frauds, Senator Warren revealed that that there is already a group of rules on the books, the gainful employment regulations, “all you have to do is enforce them.”

However DeVos could not commit to enforcing the rules which are to protect students and taxpayers by withholding federal student aid to career training programs that leave students buried in debt with few opportunities to repay.

On Feb. 7, DeVos was sworn in as Secretary of Education for the United States of America.

Shortly after being appointed as Secretary of Education, DeVos has been making headlines about her comments regarding HBCU’s.

In a statement released this past Monday, DeVos stated HBCU’s “started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education. They saw that the system wasn’t working, that there was an absence of opportunity, so they took it upon themselves to provide the solution. 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.”

DeVos statements sparked controversy because they downplayed the history behind HBCUs and it regards to Black people.

The reason HBCUs were even created because it was criminal to educate people of African descent until 1865 when they became freed slaves. Blacks were portrayed as unfit or racially inferior to their white counterparts because of their skin color. People of African descent did not initiate for segregation so they made a way for themselves.

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