Apocalyptic language from the HBCU press

In light of the discussions we’re having about S.C. State, I was intrigued when Kevin Gray posted on Facebook a link to a piece from HBCUDigest.com headlined, “On HBCUs, White House Moves From Disregard to Dismantling.”

The piece takes the Obama administration to task for not sending enough federal dollars in the direction of historically black institutions, and ends painting the picture this way:

But the president couldn’t hide his coolness towards HBCUs for long. Before his first term could end, his Department of Education orchestrated and authorized the great Pell Grant/PLUS Loan debacle of 2011. Two years later, he announced plans to tie federal aid funding to a new rating system, one which will punish schools for low graduation rates, student loan defaults, alumni employment rates, and other measures which fly in the face of the HBCU mission and profile.

And here is the latest sign that the highest offices in the nation do not want HBCUs around – millions of dollars going out in an effort to stimulate innovation and opportunities to every type of school except those where the funding is needed most, and, according to data, where the dollars would be best spent.

The other side of this equation has been the easy out given to the Obama Administration with the growing movement towards support for Minority Serving Institutions, or, MSIs. Three little letters are overtaking the Big Four in the attention and support from federal and state resources, with eager legislators quick to find a way out of funding Black colleges but not taking support away from minority students.

The ironies of this movement? The hub for the research and talking points on MSI support is based at a northern, highly selective white institution, with most of its work centering on the outcomes and examples of excellence based at Black colleges. And yet, these same colleges, which totally fit the MSI billing, have found no traction from the center to advance the national HBCU narrative, or secure transformative funding for a historically Black campus from federal sources.

In the end, there aren’t enough HBCU students to boycott or march for long enough to reverse this trend. There isn’t enough wealth among HBCU graduates to stand in the gaps opened wide by federal and state neglect. And HBCU leaders have yet to figure out how to plead their own cases for existence through Black media.

At all levels, we’re all screwed up. And the people at the very top of political and financial food chains who know well our own lack of passion, knowledge, involvement or power to change the course of our institutions, are ready to deal the final death blows to our timeless institutions.

If there’s anything at all to the perceived attitude of the administration, it makes me wonder how Arne Duncan et al. would react to the proposals floating out there regarding S.C. State…


4 thoughts on “Apocalyptic language from the HBCU press

  1. Doug Ross

    “punish schools for low graduation rates, student loan defaults, alumni employment rates, and other measures which fly in the face of the HBCU mission and profile.”

    So they should be rewarded for achieving their mission?

    1. Mark Stewart

      Aim for something less than mediocrity and you will surely achieve that.

      Spelman, Moorehouse, Howard, Hampton and Tuskegee will survive as they are; they are legitimately good schools. And probably a number of others, too.

      This process happened to women’s colleges, too. The one’s that remain have made a compelling pitch as to what they uniquely offer. The others were folded into viable, vigorous institutions – or else closed. If the mission of HBCU’s was to prepare their students for the future, most institutions have surely failed. They are not alone in this failure, to be sure, but the verdict is clear. The future does not wait for the ill-prepared.

  2. Barry

    A lot of students these days don’t really want to attend schools that are largely segregated based on race.

  3. Juan Caruso

    Citing reasoning both obvious and subtly shifting trends, Thomas Frey predicts that “By 2030 over 50% of Colleges will Collapse”. SC State is ranked #30 of the U.S. HBCUs by U.S. News & World Report LP. For comparison, Benedict College is only listed 17 places after #50 Mississippi Valley State University as unranked.

    As competition for meaningful degrees accelerates, SC State is not the only state university to be in existentiial jeopardy, but neither should it remain a money pit.

    Truth be told, SC State has produced more “notable alumni” (graduation unnecessary) in Sports than in Politics, Law, Government, Education, and Business combined.

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