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Cross Posted from my blog Resurgence at Big Think

After President Obama's announcement at the National Urban League convention in New Orleans yesterday of his latest executive order establishing a new White House initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, all I can say is “WOW!” For me this announcement is serendipitous. A week ago, I was in New Orleans, seeing firsthand what my often woefully undereducated African American brethren were going through in a post-Katrina era. President Obama could not have picked a better place to make this announcement if he was looking for maximum symbolic impact.

From a political standpoint, this announcement gets a double WOW from me, because on this same trip last week I finished reading the book The Obamas by Jodi Kantor, a fairly revealing behind the scenes account of our nation’s first African American First Family’s which confirmed many of observations I’ve made on this very blog about the president’s decision-making abilities. This is not a move Obama watchers would have predicted, given President Obama’s cautious nature or his controversy averse advisors. My good friend and blog buddy Michael Ross breaks it all down over at The Root:

   The president's panoramic initiative joins an existing White House plan -- created during the Carter administration and fortified by an Obama executive order in February 2010 -- to strengthen the nation's HBCUs, which have been under pressure because of states' budgetary woes and less money from the federal government. The nation's 105 HBCUs are responsible for about 40 percent of the nation's African-American science graduates, as well as significant numbers of judges, doctors and entrepreneurs.

    In one bold stroke, the president has underscored his oft-stated seriousness about education reform -- "a top priority of my administration," he said in February 2010 -- and offered what is likely to be seen as a rebuke to those who have criticized his administration for failing to advance any White House agenda specific to the needs of African Americans.

    The president's pending executive order carving out a new role for the Education Department counters the approach of his challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who said in April that "[t]he Department of Education I will either consolidate with another agency or perhaps make it a heck of a lot smaller." Many on the right have opposed the agency, established under President Carter, almost from its inception in 1980.

    Michael Ross  “Improving Black Education by Executive Order”

But even though this announcement is as much about politics as it is about the educational inequities long suffered by African Americans, there is no need to look this gift horse in the mouth. When we left Louisiana last week, we were dumbfounded that Governor Bobby Jindal could be turning away federal money, when his state looks more like a Third World outpost than a part of the United States of America. I will probably be similarly dumbfounded in the coming days as less sanguine members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other vanity associations take to the airwaves to complain that this president should have done this back in 2009 when he first took office.

What does this executive order really mean? There isn’t time between now and November to do more than lay the groundwork for the bureaucratic infrastructure manpower necessary to implement this initiative.  A Romney victory would almost certainly assure the demise of this executive order. For now, I will take it for what it is—a very powerful statement in the midst of a dogfight of a re-election campaign that is designed to give African American voters some skin in the game. In fact, when you look at the timing of this decision, with the Republican nominating convention just a few weeks away, the deliberate injection of race into an already highly charged political environment is likely to make the Romney campaign tack even farther towards the dangerous zone of right wing extremists.

Originally posted to Brown Man ATL on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 06:45 AM PDT.

Also republished by Black Kos community.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for highlighting this, Brown Man ATL. (4+ / 0-)

    President Obama's speech last night was inspiring, and it was indeed excited to hear about his new White House initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

    We’ve made it our mission to make a higher education more affordable for every American who wants to go to school.  That's why we fought to extend our college tuition tax credit for working families -- (applause) -- saving millions of families thousands of dollars.  

    That’s why we’ve fought to make college more affordable for an additional 200,000 African American students by increasing Pell grants.  (Applause.)  That’s why we’ve strengthened this nation’s commitment to our community colleges, and to our HBCUs. (Applause.)

    That’s why, tomorrow, I’m establishing the first-ever White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans –- (applause) -- so that every child has greater access to a complete and competitive education from the time they're born all through the time they get a career.

    And yeah, the wingnuts are definitely not going to like this.

    "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

    by nomandates on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 07:31:37 AM PDT

  •  Great diary! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    malharden, nomandates

    This is one of those actions that the president said he could initiate in spite of the Do-Nothing Republicans. The fact that it pays dividends politically highlights the sophistication of the president, his administration and his re-election team.

    And, this EO is so very beneficial to our most vulnerable citizens and future leaders of our country.

    Bravo, Mr. President and Brown Man ATL!

    •  What action? (0+ / 0-)

      Whitehouse: Strengthening HBCU Transcript

      But like all colleges and universities, HBCUs face tough challenges today.  Endowments and state budgets are shrinking, too many facilities are deteriorating, enrollment is falling -– and the cost of education keeps going up.  And these schools feel the pain more acutely –- they do more with less, and they enroll higher proportions of low- and middle-income students.  And that's why the Recovery Act that was passed last year invested in their infrastructure and technology and nearly doubled the Pell Grant award.  And that's why the budget I've proposed this year increases HBCU funding by nearly $100 million at the Department of Education alone.

      But helping HBCUs chart a new path in this new century will require much more on all of our parts.  And that's why today I'm signing an executive order strengthening the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

      Emphasis mine.

      A budget request that hasn't even passed the House yet?  (And with Republican opposition, likely never will?)

      The diarist does not link to any specific action, and seems to be cheering only an announcement speech.

      -7.75 -4.67

      "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

      There are no Christians in foxholes.

      by Odysseus on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 09:28:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Obama to his detractors in the AA community (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bewareofme, malharden

    "I've been trying to tell you to chill: I got this. Just gimme a minute, willya?" :)

  •  Huh? Looks like the prez is putting new (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hardhatmama

    wrapping paper on a stale idea. There's nothing new about this initiative. I've seen this before. Been there, done that and the outcome has never changed.

    You can "beautify" all of the outside structures you want, but if the mindset doesn't change, then we will continue to get the same results.

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