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October 4 2017

Civility Watch: DeVos Called "White Supremacist" at Harvard

by Charlotte Hays

Charter schools have proven to be an advantage for minority kids (here, here, and here) both in terms of doing well on tests and acquiring life skills.

Thus it was something of a mystery why Ed Secretary Betsy DeVos was called a "white supremacist" when she spoke at Harvard's Kennedy School. But Cortney O'Brien reports:

While DeVos was reading through her planned remarks at the Kennedy School of Government on the importance of school choice, she had to do so while staring at a sign that read, "White Supremacist." Other students made a scene with clenched fists and chants.

During her speech, DeVos faced a sign that read, "What does white supremacy look like? That's what white supremacy looks like."

White supremacist is a strange thing to call somebody who has worked so hard for school choice for minority kids and parents.

Of course, the powerful teachers' union, seeing school choice as a threat to secure jobs rather than a challenge to improve, has done everything it can to stop the school choice movement. But let's face it--"white supremacist" has become a handy label to that can be applied indiscriminately.

The crowd at the Kennedy School (I can't tell from the story whether they were affiliated with Harvard or had come into town for a nice day of protesting) had another complaint: DeVos has rescinded Obama-era guidelines that eliminated due process for the accused in campus rape allegations. Twenty-eight Harvard Law professors signed a letter  protesting the erosion of civil rights manifested in the Obama Ed Department guidelines. But, apparently, due process is something else that offends those protesting DeVos at Harvard:

Students were particularly concerned about the administration's decision to roll back President Obama's Title IX regulations. Of course, these young adults have every right to hold the education secretary accountable, but don't our elected officials deserve some kind of respect? Almost every inquiry was delivered with a sarcastic tone and narrative. It wasn't exactly the most mature display for such a prestigious institution. Nevertheless, DeVos chose to ignore the rudeness and answer each question.

As to the issue of Title IX, DeVos commended Obama for raising the issue of campus sexual assault, yet she insisted that this White House is determined to not only protect victims, but the due process rights of the accused.

"One sexual assault is one way too many," she said. "By the same token, one student that is denied due process is one too many. We need to ensure that framework is fair to all students."

And then the most bizarre question:

One young man asked DeVos how much she and the Koch brothers expect their "net worth to increase off the backs of students."

I am still scratching my head over that. DeVos and the Kochs are very wealthy but the charge that it was increased "off the backs of students" is particularly inscrutable. Indeed, as DeVos replied:

"I’ve been involved with education choice for 30 years," DeVos calmly replied. "I’ve written lots of checks for students to choose the school of their choice. The balance on my income has gone very much the other way and will continue to do so." 

Thanks to the unending protests and verbal (and sometimes physical) threats, DeVos's security could cost up to $6.54 million over the next year. Unfortunately, DeVos's unwelcome treatment at Harvard has become the norm for conservatives on college campuses.

 Yes, of course, protesters have a right to make their views known--but it would be nice if they read up a bit and at least understood what they are charging.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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