The U.S. ranks among the second tier of countries when it comes to education. We spend significantly more on education than other first world countries. For America’s Blacks, education and its institutions is rife with problems. More than 60 years after Brown vs. Board of Education, America’s school systems are separate and unequal.
A leading indication for Trump’s attitude toward Blacks’ education is the status of promises he made to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). In his early days, Trump signed an executive order to strengthen HBCUs. Trump said, “With this executive order, we will make HBCUs a White House priority.”
The top jobs in the Trump administration are mostly vacant. There is a lack of senior-level African-Americans in Trump’s administration. Trump needs to put more emphasis on filling more Cabinet-level jobs with Black Republicans. Political party operatives on either side the lectern admit that Blacks and Latinos are woefully underrepresented across the administration. Blacks outside Trump’s political and social circles worry that the increasing complications, scandal and scrutiny surrounding the White House means even less diversity and effort in the administration’s struggles to fill high-ranking government positions.
Armstrong Williams could give Trump’s Education Department help reaching Blacks as he did promoting President Bush’s No Child Left Behind law. Proud and Black Republicans such as Williams could give this administration pointer on stepping forward to facilitate learning and/or acquisition of knowledge, skills values, beliefs, and habits for and among Blacks. Trump’s Cabinet is the richest in history (Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is heiress to the Amway fortune) and has records of positive economic impact on Blacks.
DeVos has the standing to lead Trump to higher recognition and respect among Blacks. Trump has been roundly criticized for not filling hundreds of vital sub-Cabinet positions that set tone and direction across government and its agencies. While Democrats have been slow with confirmations to stall Republicans’ legislative agenda, Trump’s administration has struggled with just putting forth nominees.
Appointment of a couple hundred Blacks in senior-level would set the management tone, direction and insight across Trump’s government. No matter what the party partisans are saying; so far Trump has done more for Black economic progress in six months than Obama did over eight years. The other issue that is critically important to Blacks’ and Hispanics’ economic progress is good schools. Through the influence of Betsy DeVos, “No president has done more to advance school choice so that every child can attend a quality school public or private.” In cities like D.C. and Milwaukee, 90 percent of program children are Black.
The Trump administration can help Blacks across the county grow and prosper through timely and effective appointments of Black to senior and sub-Cabinet positions. An example is Dr. Leonard Haynes, a distinguished Black Republican whose career has been increasing Blacks’ access to high-quality education options. As the new Black senior adviser to the Under Secretary, Haynes has a remarkable resume — former acting president of Grambling State University, distinguished adjunct professor for the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State University. He previously served at the Department of Education in multiple roles including director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Haynes has had several jobs at the department in the past focusing on Blacks’ education during stints at the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. His roles included heading Initiatives on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Trump’s pick to lead the White House Initiative on HBCUS calls the schools “entrepreneurial institutions.” Johnathan Holifield has been named executive director of Trump’s HBCU Initiative. Holifeld has an established private sector track record and will well represent historically Black colleges in greater access to grants and economic inclusion.
William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via Busxchng@his.com.