Betsy DeVos seems to ignite controversy everywhere she goes.
On Monday, the secretary of education met with the presidents of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) at the White House. Afterwards, the Department of Education released DeVos' statement about the encounter.
To be entirely honest, most of the press release is pretty innocent. DeVos praised the HBCUs and said that some reforms will need to be made in order to allow more students to reach their potential.
But one section in particular is irking a lot of people. Not only because it's historically inaccurate, but because it's downright insulting to the Black community and those who advocate for the HBCUs.
"They saw that the system wasn’t working, that there was an absence of opportunity, so they took it upon themselves to provide the solution," the statement reads. "HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice. They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish."
Except, there wasn't a choice. These historically Black colleges and universities were founded because the South was segregated and Black students were denied entry from white higher education institutions.
They weren't "pioneers" who looked for another option because "the system wasn't working." The system was against Black students by design, and they were forced to establish these schools because they had no other option in the Jim Crow era.
Twitter users were quick to jump on DeVos' statement, sharing their outrage and even mocking the secretary:
DeVos was a controversial nominee for many reasons: She lacks experience on education, neither she nor her children went to public schools, and her family has deep financial ties to the Republican party. But like it or not, she's the education secretary, and she is supposed to serve the country. That means she needs to be held accountable for the statements she makes.
Whether this incident was just a careless oversight, or something more troubling (like, say, an outright lack of understanding about important historical facts), the end result is the same: It's inexcusably offensive to whitewash the dark history of racial segregation by referring to these colleges as "pioneers of school choice." DeVos might do well to pick up a history book.