HBCUs and “school choice”

My colleagues at Daily Context allowed me to use their platform (again!) to write about something historical & relevant. Here it is:

The Daily Context

by Allison Horrocks

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has recently hailed historically black colleges as “real pioneers when it comes to school choice[.]” According to DeVos, such institutions “are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality.” The backlash against such comments has been swift, with academics and journalists decrying this gross simplification of the histories of race and education in the U.S.

Instead of grappling with the ways that HBCUs have served as bulwarks against Jim Crowism, DeVos has put them in a lineage with “school choice,” phrasing more closely tied to the long fight to keep schools segregated. Those who trumpet the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) as a landmark case in American history do so with great standing. But the underlying issues leading to intense segregation by race and class have scarcely disappeared since the 1950s. What has changed is the way we talk about segregation and integration. Instead of explicitly discussing race…

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