Rep. Barbara Lee (D) ripped into Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday over what she perceived as a lack of concern for the civil rights of minority students.
At a meeting discussing the President’s 2019 Education Budget Request, Lee pressed DeVos on the disparate, and oftentimes harsher punishments Black and brown students face when they commit infractions similar to those carried out by their white peers.
“The issue is the differing of punishment by race for the same type of infraction, the disparity there as it relates to suspensions and expulsions,” Lee said. “For the same infraction, Black and brown students are expelled at a much higher rate. That’s what you call racial bias and racism.”
Lee then switched focus to President Donald Trump’s plan to arm teachers, asking DeVos if she understood why nonwhite students are worried about the decision. She highlighted the fact that Black and Latino students already face significantly tougher punishments compared to their white friends. Therefore, arming educators could potentially have deadly consequences.
DeVos dodged the question, however, and gave excuses as to why she never replied to a letter Lee sent her office in June regarding segregation in schools.
“Madam Secretary, you just don’t care much about civil rights of black and brown children,” Lee charged. “This is horrible.”