Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday distanced herself from her comment earlier this year about the nation’s historically black colleges and universities being pioneers of school choice, saying that in the past “there were no choices” for African-Americans in higher education.
“When I talked about it being a pioneer in choice it was because I acknowledge that racism was rampant and there were no choices,” DeVos said in an interview with The Associated Press in her office at the Education Department. “These HBCUs provided choices for black students that they didn’t have.”
DeVos, who marks six months in office this week, alienated many African-Americans in February when she described historically black colleges as “real pioneers when it comes to school choice.” In May, she was booed while attending the commencement ceremony at a historically black college in Florida.
“My intention was to say they were pioneering on behalf of students that didn’t have another choice. This was their only choice,” DeVos said. “At the same time I should have decried much more forcefully the ravages of racism in this country.” (Chicago Tribune)