Program Success February 2015 | Page 3

President Barack Obama and Our Nations Black Colleges
February 2015

President Obama and Our Nations Black Colleges

Washington , DC — President Obama and Vice President Biden recently met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus ( CBC ) to discuss key issues such as economic security and education . They also addressed the future of the nation ’ s more than 100 HBCUs ( Historically Black Colleges and Universities ). But some in attendance say Obama had very negative things to say about HBCUs .
He reportedly criticized the student loan policies at HBCUs and insisted that low graduation rates , not federal funding cuts or his free community college plan , were the greatest threats to HBCUs . His free community college plan proposes to offer free tuition for enrolled students who maintain a 2.5 GPA and are making progress toward completing their program , but many critics say this will hurt the HBCU community .
According to Rep . Hank Johnson ( D-GA ): “[ President Obama ] said there were some HBCUs that were not good at graduating students and if they did not improve they ’ d have to go by the wayside . In other words he didn ’ t show much empathy for struggling HBCUs . It was like ‘ show me the numbers ’ and if the numbers aren ’ t where they need to be , that ’ s it . It was a somewhat callous view of the unique niche HBCUs fill .”
Rep . Yvette Clarke ( D-NY ) also commented , “ I was concerned about what the President said because it feeds into a narrative about the value of these institutions and whether they are equip to educate our students and what the cost is for doing so . Many of these institutions have not had a maintenance of effort on the part of states or the federal government and over time that wears on their ability to maintain standards or even advance beyond a certain level . It was very clear that he doesn ’ t have the same level of appreciation for what these institutions have done and could do in the future given the right support systems .”
So what really is the problem ?
According to HBCUDigest . com : “ Since 2008 , HBCUs have lost more than $ 300 million in tuition revenue due to changes in federal loan and grant programs , and reduced funding from federal contracts and grants . The remarks follow recent criticism from White House Advisory Board Chairman and Hampton University President William Harvey during its regular meeting in Washington D . C ., in which he chastised the Obama Administration for a lack of connection with the board on pressing issues impacting higher education policy .”
Others say the issues continues to lie with the economic status of Blacks . Despite major improvements to the economy and the nation ’ s employment rate under the Obama Administration , unemployment and poverty among African Americans remains high . “ Black America continues to be in a state of emergency ,” the CBC said in a press release