Support Betsy DeVos, shoot yourself in the foot Education groups aimed at uplifting black students should not be the black face of her agenda
There are some things that can get you uninvited to a black family reunion — and tap dancing to the news that Betsy DeVos is the next Secretary of Education is one of them.
By the skin of her teeth, DeVos got enough votes to be confirmed last week. Many black educational organizations sent out perfunctory congratulations and obligatory messages of looking forward to working with her. However, some took it too far by actually praising her flawed candidacy. Their excitement for DeVos reminded a friend of two quotes:
“All my skinfolk ain’t kinfolk.”
– Zora Neale Hurston
“I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”
– Harriet Tubman (unconfirmed)
Join the conversation later on Andre Perry’s radio show, “Free College,” hosted Tuesdays onWBOK1230in New Orleans at 3pm Central/4pm Eastern 504.260.9265.
Blackness doesn’t dictate a narrow set of views about education, of course. The black tent is big enough to cover a range of approaches to reforming our school systems. But if Hurston were still here, she would certainly cast out those black organizations that are selling bad policy to black families. And last week, 51 Republicans voted in Betsy DeVos, the champion of bad policies.
Chief among her causes is school vouchers, government-funded coupons intended as an escape hatch to release students from failing public schools zoned by residence to attend a better private school of their choice. Proponents advertise vouchers as giving low-income families the same opportunities afforded to rich ones.
Many states have income and performance requirements to make that sales pitch a reality. But we should never assume private means better. Nor should we assume vouchers wouldn’t be expanded to include middle-class families. In Louisiana, students who attended a private- or faith-based school on vouchers — a program DeVos enthusiastically supported — did worse academically, particularly in math.