“‘They started in church basements, they started in old schoolhouses, they started in people’s homes,’ says Marybeth Gasman, a historian at the University of Pennsylvania who studies HBCUs. ‘[Former enslaved African] were hungry for learning … because of course, education had been kept from them.’” And in many instances, it still is.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos demonstrated her lack of knowledge on the history of Historically Black Colleges and Universities after the meeting took place, calling them examples of “school choice.”
Following a meeting with leaders at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released a statement that raised questions about how much listening she did at the session.
DeVos described HBCUs as “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,” DeVos said.
But the history of HBCUs was not about “more options” as much as it was about the only option Blacks had for a fair education.
Marybeth Gasman, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Minority-Serving Institutions, called DeVos’ remarks “inaccurate and a whitewashing of U.S. history.”
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