Published: Thu, May 11, 2017
National | By Rosalie Gross

DeVos compares school choice to switching phone carriers

DeVos compares school choice to switching phone carriers

Jackson added that the Department of Education controls 87 percent of Title IV funding and money is needed at historically black colleges and universities to help students graduate with degrees and impact their communities.

"If this behavior continues your degrees will be mailed to you", Bethune-Cookman President Edison Jackson told the crowd as the boos continued. DeVos is reiterating her push for school choice during an annual education technology conference, comparing the issue to being able to switch between phone service providers. "The legacy of Dr. Bethune is that she was not constrained by political ideology, but worked across all parties to support B-CU", Jackson said in the statement.

The announcement sparked demonstrations last week from current students, alumni, and civil rights leaders, who haven't forgotten DeVos' February comments praising HBCUs as "real pioneers when it comes to school choice".

"At first, I did turn my back, but I had to turn back around and realize it's a respect factor", said graduate Chata Jacobs.

DeVos, a particularly unpopular appointee of the Trump administration, seemed intent on giving her congratulations and "wise" words to the students in caps and gowns, but the persistent boos from the students and audience drowned her out.

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When the historically black university announced May 1 that DeVos would be the speaker, the local NAACP, National Federation of Teachers and Florida Education Association immediately voiced outrage, arguing she's an enemy of public education, a champion of school choice, favors using tax dollars to pay for kids to attend religious, private schools and is ignorant about the origins of historically black colleges and universities. The creation of schools are living proof of institutionalized racism, not school options.

But despite the opposition, Jackson has refused to rescind DeVos' invitation. "I am of the belief that it does not benefit our students to suppress voices that we disagree with, or to limit students to only those perspectives that are broadly sanctioned by a specific community", he wrote. One student described (paywall) her invitation to the school as "a slap in the face". A university statement likened DeVos' commitment to education to that of its founder, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune.

"Our partners have reviewed the university student code of conduct, and it does not contain any prohibition on peaceful protests and freedom of expression", Nweze said.

Spend just a few minutes watching your favorite cable news channel, and you'll experience the startling polarization happening across the United States. The natural instinct is to join in the chorus of conflict, to make your voice louder, your point bigger and your position stronger. But we will not solve the significant and real problems our country faces if we can not bring ourselves to embrace a mindset of grace.

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