After one of the most known confirmations of President Donald Trump’s cabinet picks, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos took a trip to Howard University to speak with University President Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick and several student leaders for the institution’s 150th celebration.
DeVos, who was confirmed for the Secretary of Education role this week, met with Frederick on Thursday (Feb. 9) in a move that reeks of “Hey, this will be a good look for you.” Joining her on the trip was communications director Omarosa Manigault, who endured some anti-Trump heat over the weekend. Her statement about the trip was released on the U.S. Department of Education’s website, along with several photos of her journey.
— Betsy DeVos (@BetsyDeVos) February 9, 2017
“It was a pleasure to meet with Howard University President Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick and several student leaders this morning,” DeVos said. “We had a robust discussion around the many challenges facing higher education and the important role of HBCUs. Howard University plays a unique and valuable role in the fabric of our higher education system, and I am honored to help celebrate its 150th anniversary.”
During her confirmation hearings, DeVos was questioned about her views on civil rights and how she would instill equal education in public schools. Her past in promoting private institutions was also challenged as well as her lack of experience in the department. As The Atlantic points out, DeVos fondness of private schools showcases her and Trump’s potential business plans of rebuilding the public education system and making it into a for-profit corporation. The history of the privatization of schools also has a connection to the creation of HBCU’s after parents of white students were reluctant to send their children to schools with students of color after the passing of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.
The Washington Post reports DeVos spoke to the employees of the Education Department on Wednesday (Feb. 8), promising to the put the needs of students first.
“Let us set aside any preconceived notions and let’s recognize that while we may have disagreements, we can — and must — come together, find common ground and put the needs of our students first,” she said. “For many, the events of the last few weeks have likely raised more questions and spawned more confusion than they have brought light and clarity. So, for starters, please know, I’m a ‘door open’ type of person who listens more than speaks.”
In her statement about her Howard trip, DeVos mentions she plans to visit other schools and talk strategy on how to “increase access to affordable, quality higher education.”