Last week, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visited Harvard University's Institute of Politics to discuss her school choice agenda. Students in the audience interrupted her several times; some even held up a sign accusing her of being a "white supremacist."
The irony, of course, is twofold. One, the subject of DeVos's Harvard address—school choice—is a policy that offers low-income students of color a respite from the hopelessness of the failing traditional public school systems in many cities. Two, DeVos's recent major policy accomplishment was rescinding the Obama administration's infamous Title IX "dear colleague" letter, a move that will restore a modicum of fairness to campus sexual harassment trials—trials that disproportionately disadvantage male students of color.
This makes DeVos a "white supremacist"? Please.
Regardless of what liberal activist groups like the NAACP think of them, school choice reforms have a proven track record of providing opportunities for poor and minority children that are often—not always, mind you, but often—better than the alternative. Charter schools are despised by the left because they threaten one of the Democratic Party's most influential bases of power: teachers unions.
"White supremacist" is an even more absurd smear when one considers how the secretary's revisions to federal Title IX enforcement are likely to impact students of color. As The Atlantic's Emily Yoffe noted in her extensive coverage of the problems with campus Title IX proceedings, the existing guidance occupied center stage in the widespread deprivation of due process rights for accused students. As far as we can tell, these students are much more likely to be male students of color, or immigrants.
And yet, according to the Harvard Crimson:
During the hour-long event, the President Donald Trump appointee gave a brief talk and answered questions from the roughly 100 attendees, most of them Harvard students.
She faced repeated interruptions. With shouts from the hundreds-strong crowd outside—"Education is a right, not just for the rich and white!"—echoing in the brightly lit John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum, protesters in the audience periodically stood and silently unveiled large posters.
"WHITE SUPREMACIST," read one, drawn in red paint on white linen.
Three other students, representing Harvard's Graduate School of Education Students for Education Justice, Graduate Students Union-UAW Organizing Committee, and the Harassment/Assault Law-Student Team, submitted an op-ed to The Crimson condemning Harvard's "complicity" in white supremacy for allowing DeVos to speak. Given the current levels of tolerance for non-leftist ideals at elite university campuses, it's no small wonder the students allowed DeVos to speak her mind at all.