Politico has a exclusive report on the scrambling inside the US Department of Education to limit the damage after Secretary DeVos hailed the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities as models of choice.
Her ignorant remark led to an explosion of negative reaction. Apparently she had no idea that HBCUs were created because black students were not allowed to attend most colleges and universities. She didn’t know, like Sean Spicer didn’t know about the chemical gas used by Hitler.
Someone quickly drafted a new comment.
“EXCLUSIVE: DAMAGE CONTROL AFTER DEVOS’ HBCU STATEMENT: The day after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued a statement tying the origin of historically black colleges and universities to school choice, career officials at the Education Department alerted the new communications crew that it was playing very poorly in the media. One career employee noted it was trending on Twitter and said, “folks are now calling requesting that we amend the statement or issue a correction acknowledging the true origin of HBCUs,” according to emails from the agency’s Office of Communications and Outreach obtained by POLITICO through a Freedom of Information Act request.
“- DeVos clarified the remark at an HBCU Congressional Luncheon. DeVos’ first statement, issued on Feb. 27 at night, equated the history of HBCUs – founded during an era of racial segregation – to charter schools and publicly funded private school options. “HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice,” she said. But on Feb. 28, as criticism exploded , DeVos stressed at the luncheon that the schools were “born, not out of mere choice, but out of necessity, in the face of racism.” Career employees continued to flag negative media coverage of DeVos’ original statement, with political communications hire Gillum Ferguson instructing them to refer callers to DeVos’ later remarks that HBCUs were born “in the face of racism,” according to the emails.
“- Karen Stratman, a career official and director of national engagement, flagged a Slate article to Ferguson and political communications hire Matthew Frendewey with the headline, “Insane Betsy DeVos Press Release Celebrates Jim Crow Education System as Pioneer of ‘School Choice,’” according to one email. Stratman wrote: “More on this–remember we’re just the messenger–just FYI on how closely words are being watched (not that you needed a reminder…).” She also asked staff to gather links to negative coverage, sending them to Ferguson and Frendewey. In response, Ferguson instructed Stratman that as she sends out DeVos’ luncheon remarks, she should specifically highlight the paragraph acknowledging that HBCUs were born “in the face of racism.” Jim Mould, a career official and director of media and customer relations, also suggested that Stratman highlight that paragraph. An Education Department spokesman didn’t respond to request for comment.”
I don’t know about you, but “in the face of racism” still sounds lame to me. I bet she never heard of Jim Crow or Plessy or Bull Connor.
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