GOP, Trump shouldn’t pour money into black colleges


The topic of historically black colleges and universities came up in the recent “listening session” at the White House with President Trump and his internal team of black leaders, as part of Black History Month.

Reportedly, this piqued the president’s interest, with presidential aide Omarosa Manigault announcing to the media that she is working on an executive order to help the HBCUs.

This has apparently excited other Republicans as an opportunity to show their interest in helping blacks and a meeting is reportedly in the making between Republican congressional leaders, White House operatives and leaders from the HBCUs.

The details of the executive order remain unknown. But short of it being a purely ceremonial, toothless statement of support, it is reasonable to assume that it’s about government money — that is usually what interests HBCUs.

Historically black colleges and universities have a distinguished history, and they have played a very important role in black life, particularly during the years of segregation.

But the question today is how does more government money going into these institutions help further President Trump’s promise to fix our inner cities?

Pell Grants to low-income students are of particular interest to HBCUs. They were upset with Barack Obama because in 2011 standards for Pell Grants were tightened, and they claim this caused drops in HBCU enrollment.

But their enrollments were dropping before 2011. In 1976, 18 percent of all black students were enrolled in these institutions. By 2013 it was down to 8 percent.

And overall black enrollment in institutions of higher learning is up.

From 2000 to 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the percentage of black students enrolled in degree-granting institutions rose from 11.7 percent to 14.5 percent. And enrollment of black students aged 18-25 stayed constant.

According to a 2015 report from the think tank Demos, despite receiving a Pell Grant, these same students wind up taking on more debt. The study reports that among black and low-income students, 81 percent who received a Pell Grant graduated with debt compared to 46 percent who did not receive a Pell Grant.

Nationwide, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 59 percent of all first-time college enrollees graduate in 6 years. For black students, it is 39.5 percent. But in HBCUs only 36 percent of students enrolled in 4-year degree-granting institutions graduate in 6 years.

So why is President Trump, who delivered a strong message in his campaign about working for real change to build prosperity in poor black communities, starting off by focusing on more of what has hurt black advancement so much — politicians showing them they care by spending government money?

Perhaps part of the president’s Black History Month listening tour should include a lesson in the damage government dependency has already done in black communities, in order to start considering ways to promote market-based solutions to fight poverty and crime.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Readers Write: Dec. 18

Reader expresses opinion through vote Reading “East Atlanta precincts swung mayoral race,” Dec. 8, I found myself identifying with the white voters who chose party affiliation over race as reported in your article. I can pass for white, though the KKK and other such white supremacists surely would not approve me. I have followed both the...
Opinion: Roy Moore debacle wasn’t all Steve Bannon’s fault

Republican politics was starting to feel like a version of Mel Brooks’ “The Producers.” In the play, two scammers devise a tax write-off scheme in which they will make a killing by losing money on a Broadway show. They reach for the most grotesque, tasteless musical the human mind can conceive — “Springtime for Hitler&rdquo...
Opinion: Beyond Election Day, the questions of how and why matters

When you’re a journalist, there is no day like Election Day. We live for that moment — the moment when we can declare a winner and begin wrapping up a story that often takes a year or more to conclude. Everyone wants to know who’s next. It’s what drives the excitement of Election Day. But even when the returns start rolling...
Readers Write: Dec. 17

Global warming giving us more extreme events What a year we’ve had! Weather took out 80 percent of Georgia’s peach and blueberry crops, Harvey drowned Houston, and Irma walloped Florida and sent the winds to us. And wildfires burned California for the second time, thanks to drought-stricken plants. Why? Climate change is here, folks! As...
Opinion: Chance to drill off Florida’s coast has some salivating

Donald Trump’s feverish war on the American wilderness compels us to celebrate an unexpected voice of conscience, rare as it might be. Last week, Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Miami and 11 other House Republicans co-signed a letter asking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to remove from the tax-reform bill a provision that will allow oil-drilling...
More Stories