Wednesday, March 3, 2010

President Obama's Mea Culpa To Black Colleges.

Upon taking office last year, one of President Obama's most curious decisions was to immediately cut $85M in funding from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. While some Negro apologists agreed with this decision, even going so far as to note that Obama's election meant HBCUs had outlived their purposes. Naturally, as an HBCU alumnus, I disagreed with this. Cutting education in a time of recession isn't a good thing, no matter how you spin it. The fact that these cuts came after nearly a decade of constant funding increases under The Evil Bush Regime just made the timing even more puzzling.

Sure, if you read between the lines, this was merely the Obama administration allowing a $170M balloon payment to HBCUs to expire, rather than an actual reduction of funding, but it still warranted an official side-eye. That said, the whole thing was a bit of a PR nightmare, so I find it refreshing that the administration not only got it right the second time around, but also turned the whole thing into a nice, fluffy, obligatory photo-op, complete with a marching band.
President Obama signed an executive order Friday strengthening the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, a document first signed by President Carter 30 years ago to "overcome the effects of discriminatory treatment" and expand capacity at the institutions.

Obama's budget for fiscal year 2011 proposes $98 million in new money for HBCUs: an increase of $13 million, or 5 percent, in the Strengthening HBCUs program, part of the federal Title III program tailored to build the self-sufficiency of HBCUs, and support for $85 million in HBCU funding in the pending student aid bill.

Obama's budget also includes $20.5 million for repair, renovation, construction and acquisition of HBCU educational facilities. The funding will support $279 million in new loans in 2011, $100 million more than in 2010. And the budget provides $64.5 million for the Strengthening Historically Black Graduate Instruction program, a 5-percent increase to a Title III program that aids graduate programs.
Heck, you can tell the administration knew how badly those cuts went over last year by looking at the staging for that photo op. The last time Obama was surrounded by that many Negroes, the infamous words "America's chickens have come home to roost" followed. So, I given them credit for taking it seriously this time around.

Peep the drumline.

If you're going to criticize people when you feel they screw up, you also should give them credit when they get it right. And on this account, I have to give Obama props. Well done.

Question: Did the Obama WH misplay the HBCU funding issue last year? Was this grand presentation acknowledgement that he messed up?

Obama moves to bolster HBCUs [WashPost]

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