The ignorance and callousness of Betsy DeVos' 'gaffe' (Opinion)
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos ironically touted historically black colleges and universities as a successful example of her beloved pet cause of "school choice." Of course, the existence of historically black institutions in America, in many cases, is the result of the opposite of school choice. Instead, they are a legacy of the "separate but equal" regime of segregated public schools that existed prior to the Supreme Court's decision in Brown vs. Board of Education, which in reality was a regime of separate but unequal and inadequate funding for black education.
In 1865, Congress created the federal Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands to assist former enslaved people in the South, including with the creation and supervision of schools. The Freedman's Bureau and black community organizations sponsored the creation of 24 private black colleges and training schools, primarily in the South, in response to the systematic state-sanctioned regime of racial segregation preventing black Americans from being integrated into existing white schools.
The school privatization movement that DeVos champions itself has its roots in racial oppression.
In 1890, Congress passed the Morrill Act, allowing Southern states to appropriate existing black colleges and to create new land-grant public universities for African Americans. Following the Supreme Court's infamous decision in Plessy vs. Ferguson, "separate but equal" became the organizing principle of public education throughout much of the United States. Even after Brown formally ended segregated education in 1954, many black college students chose to attend historically black institutions in order to escape prejudice and institutionalized racial discrimination in historically white colleges. Studies have continued to show that predominantly white universities suffer from institutionalized bigotry and racism, both overt and subtle.
But Secretary DeVos's "gaffe" not only reflected ignorance and callousness about the history of American school segregation, it was cruelly Orwellian in its level of distortion. The school privatization movement that DeVos champions itself has its roots in racial oppression. The "school choice" movement originated in white resistance to school integration, when, after Brown, Southern states offered vouchers to white students so they could attend all-white private schools -- beyond the reach of the Equal Protection Clause -- to escape their newly The ignorance and callousness of Betsy DeVos' 'gaffe' (Opinion) | OregonLive.com: