Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have bamboozled HBCU
Presidents, AGAIN, after inviting them to the White House on February
27th to participate in a brief photo-op under the pretext that Trump
would increase HBCU funding. While at this minstrel show, DeVos
arranged for Dr. Edison O. Jackson to invite her to give the May 10th
commencement address on his Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) campus.
After the uproar over this solicitation enveloped the campus
population, alumni, and HBCU supporters across the nation, Trump
pulled a rabbit out of his hat to distract the controversy
stated in his budget signing declaration that the federal HBCU annual
subsidy was in violation of the U.S. Constitution, causing the DeVos
detractors to change their focus to this issue. In the interim, the
Trump administration promoted its revisions to Pell Grants, restoring
their year-round availability, as a major boost to HBCU students, and
it was applauded by Dr. Michael Lomax, President of the United Negro
College Fund (UNCF) although there was no increase in the amount.
Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of students who will benefit
from this Pell Grant change are white.
few days later, Trump recanted his statement that the government’s
yearly HBCU support was an infringement on the Constitution and
agreed to continue providing the allotment, without the increase that
he implicitly promised at the meeting of HBCU Presidents in the Oval
Office. At the same time, DeVos was leading B-CU’s Dr. Jackson
to believe the university would be financially rewarded for carrying
her political water.
Trump and DeVos were temporarily successful in lowering the decibel
levels on Trump’s funding double-cross of HBCU CEOs and DeVos’s
B-CU commencement address and receipt of an honorary doctorate.
Nonetheless, last Monday, the Florida State Conference of the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
demanded the resignations “… of
Bethune-Cookman University’s Board of Trustees Chair Joe
Petrock and University President Edison Jackson, days before the
school … host(ed) U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as its
commencement speaker.” The NAACP also stated that DeVos
was completely unworthy of the honorary doctorate she received from
B-CU on Wednesday.
all of this was going on, Trump and DeVos were able to blunt the
negative impact of the Washington, D.C. study of voucher schools
which documented that they were under performing as compared to the
D.C. public schools. Trump has committed to include billions of
dollars for charter and voucher schools in his 2017 budget
irrespective of these findings. He made an unscheduled appearance at
a White House event where D.C. voucher students had been brought in
to meet with Education Secretary DeVos and Vice President Mike Pence
during National Charter Schools Week.
used the occasion to criticize D.C.’s public schools while
praising the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, the nation’s
only federally funded school voucher program. He said to the kids,
according to a White House transcript:
Opportunity Scholarship program that we’re
funding allows families in the inner city of our nation’s
capital to leave failing public schools and attend a private school,
making an extraordinary difference in these incredible young lives.
You’re so lucky. Great. You’re happy about it? Huh?
That’s great.” The results speak for themselves.
Ninety-eight percent of scholarship recipients represent their high
school diplomas, and they’re really very, very special. They
go into tremendous successes. So I think you’re going to all
be very, very successful. You have a big start, right? Great
bold, off-the-cuff, and inarticulate remarks contradicted the results
of his Education Department research division’s findings that
D.C. voucher school students “… performed worse on
standardized tests within a year after entering D.C. private schools
than peers who did not participate.” Such results have
been repeated in state-funded voucher programs throughout the
country: Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin among others.
keen political instincts and strategies have to be respected. He
always seems to make the right moves, no matter how controversial, at
the right time. For example, he successfully nominated and had
confirmed right-wing Appeals Court Judge Neil Gorsuch for a seat on
the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and in the process
blew up the filibuster that previously required 60 votes. Gorsuch
Trump is now
re-stocking the Twelve Federal Appeals Court Circuits with
arch-conservative judges with the goal of switching them back to
Republican control since former President Obama had flipped eight of
them to Democratic control during his two terms. Trump recently
nominated five judges to the Appeals Courts: two to the 6th
Circuit, one to the 7th Circuit, one to the 8th Circuit,
and one to the 11th Circuit. All have been approved by
the conservative Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society from
where Trump gets all his judicial referrals. And he has a slew of
forthcoming appointments to federal district courts. Many cases
pushing public education into the private sector will likely be
upheld at the Court of Appeals level and affirmed at SCOTUS now that
Republicans have a 5-4 majority.
Trump Administration has already changed school lunches, for the
worse, and has cut funding for after-school programs that have been
of greatest assistance to poor children of color in the nation’s
large and small urban centers. It is becoming apparent that Trump is
not only bamboozling HBCU Presidents but that he is deceiving us all.
gangster tactics—similar to those of his close political
friends, President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and President Vladimir
Putin of Russia—are usurping the foundations of our democracy.
Trump’s Nixonian firing of FBI Director James Comey, a Tuesday
afternoon massacre, is the latest example of his move toward