DeVos Tries To Walk Back Statement About Black Colleges, School Choice

February 28, 2017 3:50 p.m.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday tried to walk back her suggestion that historically black colleges were the product of a “school choice” movement rather than legalized segregation and Jim Crow laws.

“Your history was born not out of mere choice, but out of necessity, in the face of racism, and in the aftermath of the Civil War,” DeVos tweeted. “HBCUs remain at the forefront of opening doors that had previously been closed to so many.”

On Monday night, DeVos released a statement calling historically black colleges “real pioneers when it comes to school choice.”

“They started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education,” she said. “Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.”

Many historically black colleges were founded because black students were legally barred from attending segregated white schools, rather than from any organized push to provide “more options” for black students during an era of Jim Crow laws and legalized segregation.

DeVos’ statement drew sharp criticism from several Democratic senators.

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