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Law professor discusses DeVos comment on black universities

Tuskegee University

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a staunch supporter of privatizing education, recently pointed to historically black colleges and universities as an example of “school choice” being successful.

But UO law professor Carrie Leonetti says in an op-ed piece that black educational institutions actually came from policies explicitly preventing students from choosing their schools.

“These institutions are a legacy of the ‘separate but equal’ regime of segregated public schools that existed before the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown vs. Board of Education, which in reality was a regime of separate but unequal and inadequate funding for black education,” she said.

She even points out that the “school choice” movement itself has roots in racism, saying it “originated in white resistance to school integration, when, after Brown, Southern states offered vouchers to white students to that they could attend all-white private schools (which were beyond the reach of the Equal Protection Clause) to escape their newly integrated public schools.”

To read her full article, see “Historically black colleges a bad example of ‘school choice’” in The Register-Guard.

Leonetti is the faculty leader of the Criminal Justice Initiative at the UO School of Law in Portland. Her areas of research involve federal jurisdiction, constitutional criminal procedure, mental health and forensic science.

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