British ‘Open’ University or closed anti-Cuban Trump University?

This video from the USA says about itself:

Wilkerson: Practically Everyone Opposes Trump‘s Reversal of Obama’s Cuba Opening

15 June 2017

Reversing the Cuba opening will be a political nightmare for the Trump administration, but they ignore everyone’s warnings, says Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell‘s former Chief of Staff.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

‘Open’ University blacklists Cubans from its courses

Monday 24th July 2017

Institution accused of blocking enrolments to bolster US embargo – in breach of British laws

CUBANS have been banned from enrolling at the Open University (OU) because the institution fears repercussions from the United States, which has been illegally blockading the island for 59 years.

The distance-learning university has been accused of breaching discrimination laws by imposing the ban.

Around 30 Cuban students are already studying at other British universities and the government has pledged to build higher education links with the tiny Caribbean nation.

The OU has claimed that the ban on Cuban students is “in response to international economic sanctions and embargoes” — that is, threats of retaliation from the US.

Britain as a whole does not operate or subscribe to any economic sanctions or embargoes against Cuba.

The Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC) yesterday condemned the ban as “unacceptable” and said the OU was choosing to abide by US rather than British law.

CSC director Rob Miller said: “It is unacceptable on every level for a British university to ban an entire group of students based solely on their nationality and runs counter to anti-discrimination and equal opportunity laws.

“It is an affront to all British people to suggest, as the OU does, that they are only complying with US law. Their action and justification for it punishes the people of Cuba, and undermines the sovereignty of British law.

“Cuban students are welcome to study at many other British universities. By introducing this unjust, discriminatory and nasty policy, the OU is making a mockery of its claim to be ‘open to all.’

“We have asked the Open University to end this outrageous ban, and are calling on the British government to make urgent representations to the OU to ensure that they run a fair and non-discriminatory admissions policy, or take action to enforce one if they refuse.”

In March, Foreign and Commonwealth Minister Sir Alan Duncan met Cuban vice-minister for higher education Dr Aurora Fernandez, who was in Britain leading a delegation from the Cuban higher education sector.

He said at the time he was “looking forward to working with them towards UK-Cuba goals on higher education, research, and English language training.”

Westminster policy is one of “strengthening UK-Cuba educational links.”

Last year, a memorandum of understanding was signed to “boost bilateral cooperation in higher education, research and teaching of English.”

CSC has launched a campaign to persuade the OU to lift its ban on Cuban students and is urging supporters to write to their MPs over the matter.

The US economic blockade was imposed by president John F Kennedy in 1962, extending restrictions from 1960, and maintained by every subsequent president.

Relations between Cuba and the US improved under President Obama, though the economic blockade remained largely in place, but President Trump is tightening restrictions against island country of 11 million.

The blockade, which has been declared illegal by the United Nations every year since 1992, has significant and punitive effects on Cuba, including its health and education services.

Drugs and medicines have to be shipped from China and other countries, despite being available just 90 miles away in the US.

The OU also bans students from Iran, North Korea and Syria.

Racial segregation in United States education

This video from the USA says about itself:

Betsy DeVos Believes Jim Crow School Segregation Was Just “School Choice”

28 February 2017

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos might do well to attend a few history classes before she sends out her next press release. As Trump was meeting with leaders from the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, DeVos’s team issued a press release where she claimed that these institutions are a perfect example of how great “school choice” can be. She neglected to mention that many of these institutions were the only “choice” for African Americans during the era of Jim Crow segregation, and they were founded because wealthy white people like DeVos didn’t want to sit in the same class as black students. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this.

From the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in the USA today:

Segregation is on the rise – and we have to fight back

When the Supreme Court declared “separate but equal” unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education, it was a major victory for LDF and civil rights activists across the country.

But it wasn’t the end of segregation.

Today, 63 years later, segregation persists in our schools, along with a pervasive achievement gap between Black and white students.

Just last month, Principal Christine Hoffman of Campbell Park Elementary School – a predominantly Black public school in Pinellas County, Florida – sent out an email to staff saying that “white students should be in the same class.”

Our fight against discrimination in schools is far from over.

LDF is currently litigating Bradley v. Pinellas, a desegregation case in the Pinellas County School District. In fact, we have been litigating this case for fifty years – and appalling statements like Hoffman’s show just how much work is still ahead of us.

From Gardendale, Alabama to Hartford, Connecticut, LDF and co-counsels are litigating or monitoring nearly 100 desegregation cases – about half of these types of cases are active.

We know this fight well. With supporters like you by our side, we are prepared for the long haul.

Please take a moment to read my opinion piece on the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education on As Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration prepare to launch initiatives that could fundamentally weaken public education, we must remember the real cost of segregated education to our democracy – and continue to expose and challenge it.

With you in struggle,

Sherrilyn A. Ifill
President and Director-Counsel

P.S. We just celebrated the 63rd anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education last evening in Washington, D.C., and it sparked some relevant – and necessary – dialogue on the attack on public education. I hope you’ll go through the #BrownsPromise hashtag on Twitter and be a part of the conversation.

Florida students boo Trump’s miseducation secretary Betsy DeVos

This video from Florida in the USA says about itself:

Betsy DeVos Booed at Bethune-Cookman University‬‬ during her Commencement Speech

10 May 2017

BCU graduates standing and turning their back and booing on Betsy DeVos during her commencement speech.

Bethune-Cookman University dean interrupts DeVos speech, threatens students “your degrees will be mailed to you!” They persist!

By Nick Barrickman in the USA:

US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos booed by students at Florida college

12 May 2017

On Wednesday, US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was soundly booed by students while attempting to give the commencement address at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida, a historically black university.

In the days leading up to the event, Bethune-Cookman students sharply criticized the university administration’s decision to provide DeVos a platform at the commencement ceremony.

DeVos was confirmed in the US Senate February 7 by a 51-50 vote, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the deciding vote. The education secretary is widely seen as a particularly philistine and crude representative of Trump’s cabinet of billionaires and multi-millionaires.

DeVos is married to Dick DeVos, the former CEO of Amway. The DeVos family is reportedly worth $5.4 billion, making them the 88th richest family in the US.

Betsy DeVos (whose brother is former US Navy SEAL and founder of Blackwater, Erik Prince) is notorious for her indefatigable opposition to public education. The wealthy, right-wing “school choice advocate” has bragged of her family’s efforts to buy favors from politicians, writing in 1997: “My family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party. I have decided … to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect things in return.”

At Bethune-Cookman May 10, DeVos was jeered upon being introduced at the ceremony. Nearly half the audience of 380 students turned their back on the speaker as she made her remarks, which consisted largely of banal calls for students to dedicate themselves to the common good and other standard fare.

As the boos and heckling became louder and louder, school president Edison O. Jackson stepped in and warned students to stop their protesting, or else “Your degrees will be mailed to you,” i.e., the ceremony would be halted and the students dispersed. However, the booing continued as DeVos stated she planned to visit the gravesite of the school’s founder, civil rights activist and daughter of parents who had been slaves, Mary McLeod Bethune.

She made racist comments about HBCUs [Historically Black Colleges and Universities], she doesn’t know anything about us, and she has the nerve to come down here and speak to us … And then she has the nerve to speak about Mary McLeod Bethune’s legacy. What does she know about that?” commented graduating student Donjele Simpson to the Washington Post in regard to DeVos’s appearance at his school. A number of students protesting DeVos’s speech cited the US Education Department’s recent decisions to rescind a number of Obama administration consumer protections for student loan borrowers.

DeVos drew widespread criticism in February when she referred to historically black colleges and universities, such as Bethune-Cookman, as “pioneers of school choice.” Such institutions were created historically out of harsh necessity, primarily in the former slave states, in response to the segregation of universities and colleges and the exclusion of black students. Whether the comment was intended as a provocation or simply displayed gross ignorance, many saw DeVos’s comment as an apology for Jim Crow segregation.

Last week, President Donald Trump indicated he believed federal funding for historically black colleges to be unconstitutional. Trump was widely rebuked for this comment, and declared Sunday his “unwavering support” for such institutions, which, in fact, are increasingly integrated.

The protest at BCU occurred in the general context of growing hostility to the Trump administration, including from among those who voted for him. A new Quinnipiac University poll found Trump’s approval ratings have fallen to 36 percent, with 58 percent of those polled saying Trump’s first months in office are “mainly a failure.”

DeVos tried to save face after her appearance at Bethune-Cookman, releasing a statement Wednesday night which declared that “[o]ne of the hallmarks of higher education, and of democracy, is the ability to converse with and learn from those with whom we disagree… We can focus on differences that might divide us or we can choose to listen, be receptive and learn from other experiences and perspectives.”

The statement echoed comments made by Bethune-Cookman president Jackson, who had defended DeVos’s appearance days earlier in a letter, asserting, “When we seek to shelter our students and campus communities from views that are diametrically opposed to their own, we actually leave our students far less capable of combating those ideas.” Neither DeVos nor Jackson sought to reconcile their supposed support for the principle of the free exchange of ideas with their denunciations of the “uncivil” BCU students who turned out en masse to exercise their right to free speech to combat DeVos’s unpopular ideas.

Among various actions as Education Secretary, DeVos has appointed far-right figures to her department, including Candice Jackson (author of Their Lives: The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine) to the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Jackson, who like DeVos has made a career of opposition to public spending for education services, is also an ideological opponent of social equality, who has denounced immigrants and other groups in recent social media comments.

The author also recommends:

Ultra-right libertarian to run the US Education Office of Civil Rights
[18 April 2017]

US education chief Betsy DeVos plots school privatization with venture capitalists: here.

In a news article on Friday, June 2, the New York Times makes the jarring claim that US Secretary Betsy DeVos’ appointees are a “stark departure from her reputation.” The leading publication of the liberal establishment suggests that the common perception that DeVos is “an out-of-touch, evangelical billionaire without the desire or capacity to protect vulnerable poor, black, immigrant, gay or transgender students” needs to be re-thought: here.

Trump education budget calls for dismantling core programs, promotes vouchers and charter schools: here.