The Importance Of Being Earnest: President Obama “Has A Bias In Favor Of Historically Black Colleges and Universities”

josh_earnestPresident_Barack_ObamaThere was an interesting moment in a White House briefing this week by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest. Earnest made a frank statement that President Obama had a “bias” for black colleges and universities. The statement produced an immediate backlash from some academics at non-historically black institutions. It was an honest moment and it is likely to be blown out of proportion by those who wrongly subscribe to the view that Obama dislikes whites, as stated this week by the Maine governor. However, the statement took many of us back in the academic world particularly when the question addressed all colleges and universities with regard to loans. I am pretty sure that Earnest was simply noting that the reduction of loans would affect these institutions significantly. However, various professors emailed me with the comment that spread like wildfire across academic channels. I think that the comment is being blown out of proportion and would have been less problematic with an additional line about the high vulnerability of these institutions to the loss of such revenue. Even that however would likely draw objections that schools, including law schools, are cutting back on staff and programs as revenues fall with applications across the country. Tough times understandable make for sensitive folk.

Here is the exchange:

Q    Josh, since you’re talking about the President and the college tour, well, the tour that he’s having and college is one of the issues, and how college makes many persons middle class, within the middle-class status, there is an issue right now where HBCUs are very concerned and have petitioned the President for a meeting and petitioned the Department of Education about something called the Parent PLUS Loan.  It’s a federal loan that has — now has strict requirements where parents are now being rejected.  And many schools are losing money.  Apparently if you have a blemish on your credit report over the last five years, you are not getting that loan.  What is the President saying about this?  Is he planning on meeting with these university presidents?  And what is the Education Department going to do about this?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I’m not aware of the specific meeting request, but I can certainly take a look into it.

The President and this administration have been strong supporters of historically black colleges and universities all across the country.  Funding for those colleges and universities has increased under President Obama.  And the President was pleased to have the opportunity earlier this spring to speak at the commencement at Moorehouse College down in Atlanta.  So the record — the President’s record on these issues — he has a bias in favor of historically black colleges and universities because of the service they provide and because of the quality education that they provide to their students.

PLUS Loans allow parents to help pay for a child’s college through a fixed rate Federal loan. That has nothing to do with historically black colleges per se. Moreover, it was odd to have such a statement since Obama himself never went to a historically black college but went to Columbia University and Harvard Law School.

More importantly, it is unsettling for academics in this tough economy to have a spokesman state a presidential bias for black colleges and universities. I cannot understand his strong support for such institutions, though as an academic I prefer academic institutions that are not identified as catering to particular races or religions or genders. For that reason, I think that it is a good trend to see non-minority enrollments increasing at some of these schools. However, that issue and trend can be debated with good faith arguments on both sides. What should be clear is that any bias in favor of such institutions should have no place in a discussion of federal policy on loans affecting all universities. Earnest was speaking at the spokesman for the President of the United States. Ironically, non-traditionally black colleges and universities overwhelmingly supported the Obama Administration in fighting to use race as a criteria for admission. They all offer quality education to minorities and non-minorities alike.

The concern among educators is that such public statements of bias in favor of black colleges and universities sends a message to Education Department officials in prioritizing assistance to those institutions. Once again, I think that this was a stray comment for Earnest and obviously not meant to say that such a bias is relevant to the federal loan program. My assumption is that he was saying that such loans affect historically black colleges and universities the most due student populations coming from less affluent families. That is certainly a valid concern.

These are extremely difficult times for colleges and universities. It is important for the President to be seen as working equally for all academic institutions. I am willing to treat this statement as a frank acknowledgment by Mr. Earnest. However, sometimes the importance of being Earnest also the importance to be a bit circumspect.

20 thoughts on “The Importance Of Being Earnest: President Obama “Has A Bias In Favor Of Historically Black Colleges and Universities”

  1. I think that the comment is being blown out of proportion and would have been less problematic with an additional line about the high vulnerability of these institutions to the loss of such revenue. Even that however would likely draw objections that schools, including law schools, are cutting back on staff and programs as revenues fall with applications across the country. Tough times understandable make for sensitive folk.” -JT

    Indeed.

    We need to get together and spend some American money on America and stop spending it on ruling the world through an imperialist empire.

  2. Earnest made what I consider a larger “blunder”[DC for speaking the truth] by admitting the WH was not aware of the killing of a foreign student in Oklahoma, even after the Australian PM called on his citizens to boycott the US. Too many fires to put out, and this isn’t Idaho.

  3. Look… The default rate of student loans is a real issue for schools that rely of the loans for viability….. It’s shuttered a few online schools…. What’s wrong with “historically black colleges”…. Everybody should go somewhere….

  4. ROFLMAO – The entire federal government is biased in favor “historically black colleges” and give them special subsidies so that there will be Black Only colleges of reasonably high regard.

    Yeah, it’s racist as are the colleges in question, but what are you going to do? It can’t be changed until we get politicians in power who don’t care about or need the Black vote or the approval of Leftists who constantly pander to the Blacks.

    Now, if we kicked the “brown people” out of the Ivy League and name those colleges as “historically white colleges” with similar subsidies THEN you’d see outrage.

  5. http://www.examiner.com/article/texas-school-counselor-white-people-will-soon-be-wiped-from-the-earth-lol

    Texas school counselor: White people will ‘soon be wiped from the earth. Lol’

    “Oh well….its most of the whites who is getting blown away…”

    As school official from a Texas middle school has been fired from her position as a counselor of very young teen-agers for sending via social media her lighthearted and apparent approval of white people being killed, as reported by KRMG radio of Tulsa, OK on April 20, 2013.

    Karon Wright, formerly a counselor at Andrew Jackson Middle School in Grand Prairie, TX, was unceremoniously fired by the school district for:

    “Highly offensive, insensitive to the tragedy happening to our friends and neighbors in West, and disrespectful to the very human bond that we share with the people of West, especially those who have lost their loved ones.”

    Besides a questionable mastery of the English language, the now-former school official and alleged college graduate also found the deaths of fellow human beings quite humorous.

    As she posted on the Facebook site of near-by Dallas television station WFAA-TV:

    “It’s amazing how the ‘whites’ get angry when Obama speaks. Oh well….its most of the whites who is getting blown away. So they will soon be wiped from the earth. Lol”

    KRMG cites the catalyst for her comments was a recent speech by Barack Obama in regards to the deadly explosion of the fertilizer factory in the Texas city of West which killed well over a dozen people and injured hundreds.

  6. This was not an accident. It was calculated cynicism by Obama, SOP. Instead of taking him at his word (or the word of a minion) just look at reality. Obama does not favor black colleges. Where is the evidence?

    Obama’s educational policies have made things far worse for black young people. So why would his minion say this particular lie? Because Obama is having a bit of a PR problem with his true believers. Some of them don’t approve of all his lying about surveillance, some don’t approve of what he did to Manning, a few don’t even like what is happening to detainees in Gitmo.

    It becomes necessary to create a distraction and have the followers back in line. This is what this is all about. It shouldn’t get the time of day. It is a lie based on a false first premise. It’s like all his other lies and should be given no credence by anyone.

  7. The black/white thing is not that interesting to me. What I find interesting is the revealing statements that these universities/colleges (and all of them, really) are so dependent on the further indebtedness of our young generation.

    They are desperately trying to get the fed govt to enable the continued debt binge and this will end badly.

  8. Obama has a bias in favor of the White Sox. He has a bias in favor of his dogs. He has a bias in favor of Hawaii over Statin Island. He has a bias in favor of Armour Hotdogs. He has a bias in favor of the 47%. He had a bias in favor of Harvard. He had a bias against Yale. He wont be sending his kids to Howard. He is not allowed in Wrigley Field. He is not the Cat’s meow. He is half white. He is not a sox. Get over it already.

  9. You have got to be kidding.

    Young men and women are graduating from State Universities with over $100,000 in student loans for a simple 4 year degree thus making them “bankruptcy proof” for banks while giving great profit to the Federal government through those same loans and also propping up the out of control costs of a University education … and academics are worried about Obama’s spokesman pandering to black universities?

    Lord, love a duck

  10. Here is another reason that Obama needs better PR: “The review of US surveillance programs which Barack Obama promised would be conducted by an “independent” and “outside” panel of experts looks set to consist of four Washington insiders with close ties to the security establishment.

    The president announced the creation of the group of experts two weeks ago, in an attempt to stem the rising tide of anger over National Security Agency surveillance techniques disclosed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    Obama trumpeted what he said would be a “high-level group of outside experts” tasked with assessing all of the government’s “intelligence and communication technologies”.

    However a report by ABC News, which has not been denied by the administration, said the panel would consist of Michael Morell, a recent acting head of the CIA, and three former White House advisers.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/22/nsa-surveillance-review-panel-insiders

  11. This is huge. From the Guardian: “The National Security Agency paid millions of dollars to cover the costs of major internet companies involved in the Prism surveillance program after a court ruled that some of the agency’s activities were unconstitutional, according to top-secret material passed to the Guardian.

    The technology companies, which the NSA says includes Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook, incurred the costs to meet new certification demands in the wake of the ruling from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (Fisa) court.

    The October 2011 judgment, which was declassified on Wednesday by the Obama administration, found that the NSA’s inability to separate purely domestic communications from foreign traffic violated the fourth amendment.

    While the ruling did not concern the Prism program directly, documents passed to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden describe the problems the decision created for the agency and the efforts required to bring operations into compliance. The material provides the first evidence of a financial relationship between the tech companies and the NSA.”

  12. gee, what a surprise. A bias towards “birds of a feather”. Totally natural. Just as long as one doesn’t inhibit anyone from working, purchasing, and appearing anywhere they legally damn well please.

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