Somebody Needs to Tell Betsy Devos:
The Struggle Against Denying Black People Education Wasn’t a Fight For School Choice
by Carl Dix
February 28, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
So Trump’s secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, thinks Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were pioneers in school choice in that they saw that the system wasn’t providing educational opportunities to Black students, so they took it upon themselves to provide the solution. No, Ms. DeVos, you got it twisted here; maybe out of your own ignorance, or because you thought people reading your statement were ignorant. Or maybe it’s some of both.
The HBCUs were created out of the fight to end the denial of any educational opportunities to Black people. First under the slave system, which made it a crime to teach Black people to read! And then under the separate and unequal policies of Jim Crow segregation, Black students were barred from attending whites-only schools from elementary school thru college. Part of keeping Black people in the U.S. subjugated has been keeping them shrouded in ignorance. And part of the struggle against that subjugation has been fighting to break out of that enforced ignorance. It was in the face of this complete denial of educational opportunities that HBCUs grew and developed. In the 1950s and 1960s, the National Guard and U.S. troops needed to be mobilized to beat back white mobs who attempted to keep Black students from attending public schools.
DeVos and those who back her “school choice” agenda are taking up the legacy of those white mobs who fought to keep Black students out of their schools. In fact, after the Supreme Court ruled Jim Crow schools to be unconstitutional, whites in many Southern states used public funds to start all-white private schools to keep segregation in effect under the banner of school choice.
Her vision, and the vision of the Trump/Pence regime, is of an educational system where the public schools are gutted and students are funneled into schools that train them as Christian fundamentalist robots, unable to think critically or resist. This is a key part of the overall fascist agenda the Trump/Pence regime is working to enforce.
Finally, a word to the officials from the HBCUs who crowded into the White House to get into the photo opportunity with Trump. Undoubtedly, the motivation for the way you all were “skinning and grinning” was a desire for more federal funding to help your schools survive and thrive. But think about the deal you were being offered—the promise of increased funding in exchange for creating favorable public opinion for a fascist regime that will greatly intensify the horrors the system enforces and eventually clamp down on all resistance and remake the law. This amounts to being an American version of the Judenrat, the Jewish councils that the Nazis used in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s to help them segregate, subjugate, and finally try to exterminate the Jewish people. Do you want to play that kind of role today?
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