Friday, March 20, 2015

Historically Black Colleges and Universities say Obama has Fallen Short

The country’s first African American president is finding himself increasingly at odds with a cornerstone of the African American community: historically black colleges and universities.
Leaders at these schools and some black lawmakers say the Obama administration has been pushing policies for years that hurt students at a time when historically black colleges are already cash-strapped and seeing a drop in enrollment.

Tensions spilled over after a recent Congressional Black Caucus meeting with Obama and Vice President Biden in which the president said that historically black schools, also known as HBCUs, needed to do a better job graduating students and not saddling them with debt, according to several people at the meeting. Some Black Caucus members bristled at those remarks since they say the president didn’t acknowledge that his own administration was also pursuing policies that advocates say are hurting the schools.

“The president thinks that HBCUs — and there may in fact be some — are failing our students,” said Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio), who was in attendance. “But there needs to be an open dialogue about higher education and why HBCUs have historically gotten short shrift when it comes to resources and recognition.”

On Friday, President Obama visited Benedict College, a historically black, liberal arts college in Columbia, S.C., as part of a push for his initiative called “My Brother’s Keeper” aimed at helping young black men.

But he did not mention historically black schools that have been hailed for their work educating young African Americans. Many of the schools are strapped for cash after years of financial mismanagement, poor alumni giving and fluctuating levels of government support. They are seeing a drop in enrollment, and many are struggling to graduate students on time.

Critics of the administration say that rather than help these schools at a time of acute need, the president keeps ignoring them or enacting policies that hurt them.

Read More: The Washington Post