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Monday, March 6, 2017

DJT's executive order on HBCUs


President Trump's zany tweets provide clues about his intentions.  His executive orders, which initially seem to be straightforward, upon inspection reveal forking paths.  His officially announced strategies and tactics are trickster pipers .  Following the music, one is rewarded with confusion.  A fine example is his executive order of February 28, 2017 "on The White House Initiative to Promote Excellence and Innovation at Historically Black Colleges and Universities."

Revoking President Barack Obama's Executive Order 13532 of February 26, 2010 on "Promoting Excellence, Innovation, and Sustainability at Historically Black Colleges and Universities," Trump's order deleted the word "sustainability" from the title.  This is an omen.  So too is deletion of 2020 as a benchmark year for obtaining the general goals of Obama's initiative.  Trump's order evicted the initiative from the Department of Education, where it had been housed for more than three decades, and relocated it to the Executive Office of the President.  The move increases the possibility for Trump to tweet more directly about his initiative, his HBCUs, and his African Americans.  The possibility begs us to have anxiety and to ask why "sustainability" was deported.  Will Trump in the near future revoke Obama's executive order of July 26, 2012 on the "White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans"?

Anxiety grows when one notices that Section 2. (b). (i) replaces the "five core tasks" specified in Executive Order 13532 with "two primary missions" which focus on

(i) increasing the private-sector role, including the role of private foundations, in

(A) strengthening HBCUs through enhanced institutional planning and development, fiscal stability, and financial management; and

(B) upgrading institutional infrastructure, including the use of technology, to ensure the long-term viability of these institutions; and

(ii) enhancing HBCUs' capabilities to serve our Nation's young adults…..

There is some legerdemain involved in transferring the onus for building a "cradle-to-college" pipeline from the Federal government to the private sector.  The private sector is not bound by Constitutional law to comply or cooperate.  Philanthropic  foundations have their own agendas, which may or may not be correlative with Trump's intentions.

To some extent, the signing on February 28, 2017 was little more than a public relations opportunity, purchased with the chagrin of HBCU presidents misled by the music to expect less ceremony and a more serious event for substantive dialogue with President Trump.  Wrong from the start.  Trump's behavior from January 20 to February 27, 2017 should have been a clear signal that HBCU presidents would be use to impart credibility to an episode of  American  political reality television .  It would not do for the show to lack color.

Jerry W. Ward, Jr.                            March 6, 2017

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