Monday, November 02, 2015

The War On HBCUs


                                              From The Ramparts
                                         Junious Ricardo Stanton
                                            The War on HBCUs

            "According to documents provided by the Department of Education to the HBCU Digest, total grants from the Department of Education dropped from more than $742 million in 2010 to $680 million in 2012. Grants and research awards from federal agencies to HBCUs for S.T.E.M. development decreased from $661 million in 2010 to $573 million in 2011. According to the WHI-HBCU 2009 annual report, the last produced by the office which, under Dr. Wilson's leadership, never produced an annual report, HBCUs received just under $5 billion from federal agencies, about 2 percent of a total $175 billion awarded to institutions of higher education throughout the nation. In a recent article in the Washington Post, Department of Education leadership suggested that the loan changes were not executive mandates, but rather, changes enacted by lower-ranking officials which went unchecked by policy makers in the Department and within the White House Initiative on HBCUs." Barack Obama and the $300 Million Dollar War On HBCUs by Jarrett L. Carter

            As we survey the political landscape examining and analyzing the facts and watching actions rather than falling for the rhetorical okey-doke, we are forced to conclude there is a war against HBCUs. Today in America one of the most vile canards being pushed is that we live in a "post racial" social milieu. This in my mind is the equivalent of the "Separate but Equal" lie that fueled American "legal" racial apartheid, color caste and oppression during the nineteenth and most of the twentieth century.
            The war is on both the psychological and policy fronts. The ruling class their political flunkies and mind control apparatus question the validity and need for HBCUs. They assert HBCU are outmoded, inferior and have no place in modern America. They say such things as, "'Even the best black colleges and universities do not approach the standards of quality of respectable institutions,' according to economist Thomas Sowell. 'None has a department ranking among the leading graduate departments in any of the 29 fields surveyed by the American Council of Education. None ranks among the ‘selective’ institutions with regard to student admissions. None has a student body whose College Board scores are within 100 points of any school in the Ivy League.'"   Black Colleges Need a New Mission: Once an essential response to racism, they are now academically inferior. By JASON L. RILEY
             The writer of this article goes on to assert, that HBCU retard the earning potential of their graduates. He quotes Harvard and MIT economists to buttress his claims, "The economists Roland Fryer of Harvard and Michael Greenstone of MIT have found that black colleges are inferior to traditional schools in preparing students for post-college life. 'In the 1970s, HBCU matriculation was associated with higher wages and an increased probability of graduation, relative to attending a [traditional college],' they wrote in a 2007 paper. 'By the 1990s, however, there is a substantial wage penalty. Overall, there is a 20% decline in the relative wages of HBCU graduates in just two decades.' The authors concluded that “by some measures, HBCU attendance appears to retard black progress.'"  
            While this article was supposedly written to challenge HBCUs to rethink their mission and up their game, it was a not so subtle existential attack on HBCUs. Personally I think economists are either the most confused or disingenuous people on the planet. Very rarely do you find agreement amongst them on any issue. The value of HBCUs is no different.  First off the economists and Mr. Riley who shills the anti-HBCU agenda conveniently forget the income gap between HBCUs and Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) and the legacy of economic caste that still lingers in this country. HBCUs never had the facilities, equipment or endowments their PWI counterparts had, nor the funding or backing!
            The argument that HBCUs are ineffective and outmoded is simply not true. The fact of the matter is despite their lack of resources HBCUs continue to fulfill their original mission, to educate Black people. These are the real facts, "HBCUs represent about 3% of colleges in the U.S. but enroll 12% of all Black college students and produce 23% of all Black college graduates. Remarkably, this small group of colleges confers 40% of all STEM degrees and 60% of all engineering degrees earned by Black students. They also educate half of the country’s Black teachers and 40% of all Black health professionals. And they do this with much less funding support than that of traditionally White institutions." The HBCU Debate: Are Black Colleges & Universities Still Needed? Started as a response to racism and starved of financial support, HBCUs have to do more with less Robin White Goode
            Studies reveal that despite lower SAT and ACT test scores students at HBCUs go on to perform well in graduate school and especially in Science Engineering Math and Technology than their Black PWI attending/graduating counterparts. "Elliott, et al., indicate that the relative position of blacks in HBCUs as compared to those at non- HBCUs probably accounts for the positive effects of HBCUs. The authors note that black students at non-HBCUs—even those who score well compared to national racial and ethnic norms—are competitively disadvantaged relative to their school’s student body on indicators of developed ability that predict science persistence and achievement, particularly at elite colleges and universities. This results in weaker performance and persistence among blacks than might occur in less competitive settings. The authors note that the differences are large enough to suggest that the achievement gaps are due to nonacademic factors as well as to differences in developed ability. Most importantly in the context of this briefing, Elliott, et al., note that while HBCU enrollees and graduates have quite low SAT scores and high school grades, they nonetheless produce 40 percent of black engineers with only 20 percent of black enrollment. They also note that the top 21 undergraduate producers of blacks with doctoral degrees were HBCUs, and none of the highly successful schools were among the 30 most selective academic institutions." The Educational Effectiveness of Historically Black Colleges and Universities  US Commission on Civil Rights
            I readily admit HBCU do not have the facilities and equipment of PWIs and much of this is by deliberate design and stems from this nation's ongoing legacy of racism and privation. For example the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has long neglected Cheyney University to  the point it is now on life support unable to compete in a PASSHE system that itself is in serious decline and suffering from massive budget cuts, underfunding and loss of students.  "Many people interviewed for this article, from faculty members to Council of Trustees Chairman Robert W. Bogle to scholars who study HBCUs, placed much of the blame for Cheyney’s challenges with the state of Pennsylvania.
They pointed to historic underfunding and unequal treatment of Cheyney. They described how, decades ago, contractors would use subpar materials when constructing new buildings. They noted that, in 1969, Pennsylvania's government was found by the federal government to be among 10 state governments operating an openly discriminatory higher education system, and how, in 1999, the PASSHE system signed an agreement with the U.S. Office for Civil Rights that aimed to provide more funding and new programs for Cheyney in an effort to compensate for decades of discrimination. Yet that agreement was never fully executed. A new coalition of alumni and advocates, dubbed Heeding Cheyney’s Call, has sued PASSHE and seeks 'parity through equity,' or support that would make up for historic underfunding due to past discriminatory practices. Michael Coard, a member of that group, says Cheyney is treated like the 'stepchild' of the PASSHE system. Bogle says that 'at no time' has the university been treated as an 'equal partner' in the system." An HBCU Fights to Survive- Kellie Woodhouse
            Public HBCUs generally receive less funding than their WPI counterparts. But what the critics of HBCUs never discuss are the manifold benefits of HBCUs. A recent Gallup Poll indicated HBCU students felt better about themselves because they matriculated to an HBCU. "WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the U.S. are battling a number of challenges, including declining enrollment numbers and lower-than-average graduation and retention rates. Despite these challenges, a new Gallup study reveals that black graduates of HBCUs are more likely than black graduates of other institutions to be thriving -- strong, consistent and progressing -- in a number of areas of their lives, particularly in their financial and purpose well-being."
            There is a war against HBCUs. Priorities for higher education are not high and governments can always find money for war, mass incarceration, other boondoggles and corporate welfare. When you add racism to the mix the results are catastrophic! For example in Pennsylvania the state prefers to spend more money on incarceration and prison construction than on Higher Education despite the fact that according to its own statistics crime has been in steady decline since 2009! "Pennsylvania could spend more money annually incarcerating its citizens than providing them with higher education, according to Gov. Tom Corbett’s 2013-14 budget proposal. Funding for corrections makes up 7.3 percent of the state budget, while secondary education accounts for 6.4 percent. Even though Corbett will match last year’s funding for colleges and universities in the upcoming fiscal year as previously reported, funding is still well below what it was in past years. In the last five years, the state has cut funding for higher education by more than $150 million per year, while it has increased funding of state correctional programs by more than $375 million per year in the same time frame, according to the governor’s operating budgets published online."
            If you are willing to stand for economic justice, expanding opportunity and government for the people join with Heeding Cheyney's Call as we travel to Harrisburg on Tuesday November 10 to pleaded our case for enhanced higher education funding, equity, parity, justice and support for Cheyney University. For details go to




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