Dear Commons Community,
The New York Times is reporting that facing a fierce backlash after she called historically black colleges and universities “real pioneers” of school choice, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, spent yesterday backtracking on the controversial statement and highlighting the institutions’ roots in racism and segregation.
Ms. DeVos, in a series of Twitter posts on Tuesday and in remarks at a luncheon with presidents from some of the schools, repeatedly acknowledged that the schools were not created simply to give African-American students more choices but because black students across the country were not allowed into segregated white schools.
“Bucking that status quo, and providing an alternative option to students denied the right to attend a quality school is the legacy of HBCUs,” she said, according to prepared remarks released by her office. “But your history was born, not out of mere choice, but out of necessity, in the face of racism, and in the aftermath of the Civil War.”
She added that historically black colleges and universities “remain at the forefront of opening doors that had previously been closed to so many,” and that the schools “made higher education accessible to students who otherwise would have been denied the opportunity.”
The controversy is the latest gaffe for Ms. DeVos, who has had a rough start to say the least.