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Congressman John Conyers

Representing the 13th District of Michigan

CONYERS CONDEMNS INSULTING STATEMENT BY DEVOS ON HBCUS

February 28, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman John Conyers, Jr (MI-14) today released the following statement:

“Last night, the Department of Education published a press release with a quote from Secretary of Education Betsy Devos that is shocking and insulting. In her statement, Mrs. Devos says that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were “started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education,” and that therefore they are “real pioneers when it comes to school choice.”

“Let’s be clear, HBCUs were started because of Jim Crow laws. Black students did not “choose” HBCUs over the all-white colleges -- they were barred from attending due to their race. This statement by Mrs. Devos reveals either a stunning ignorance of history on the part of the person tasked with overseeing our nation’s education system, or an inability to acknowledge our nation’s shameful history of racial discrimination in education, both public and private.

“These statements are not surprising.  Mrs. Devos’s “work” in Michigan pushing for an education system that increases segregation, improves schools for wealthy students, and destroys choices in minority and underserved communities, should have disqualified her from serving in her current position.   As should the fact that neither she nor her family have ever attended or worked in a public school, and she appears to be wholly ignorant of even the basic principles of either teaching or educational management.

“Every day of this administration brings a new level of incompetence and insincerity. Yesterday’s attempt to whitewash the stain of segregation into an argument for privatizing our public schools is perhaps a new low in her current position.  I condemn this misguided statement, and I urge her to continue meeting with the leadership of our nation’s HBCUs to better understand their mission and how the Department can better adopt policies to expand equal access to quality education.”

 

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