The president of Dillard University took to Twitter to debunk disinformation being spread about the Biden administration’s commitment to funding HBCUs. Walter M. Kimbrough, known on Twitter as @HipHopPrez, highlighted several accounts spreading the lie that the Biden administration cut $30 Billion from HBCUs.
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Holding elected officials accountable is a part of the Democratic system. But part of the accountability process is getting the facts straight. The current issue involving HBCU funding has to do with implementing Biden’s Build Back Better Plan and the reconciliation budget process making its way through Congress. During the process of creating a bill that is consistent with the Biden plan, Congress earmarked less money for HBCUs than the Biden proposal.
But people intentionally spreading disinformation don’t care about facts or context. Sowing discord or causing confusion is often the goal.
President Joe Biden has advanced an ambitious budget proposal known as the Build Back Better Agenda, an interrelated set of policy proposals that are expected to improve conditions for millions of Americans. Along with increased HBCU funding, the Biden budget proposal includes unprecedented funding for free community college, early childhood initiatives, and climate change efforts among other things.
If you have seen news reports of a handful of conservative Democrat holdouts refusing to move on the president’s plan, the HBCU funding is tied to that same process. This should be a wake-up call that the issues and programs affecting our communities are tied up in these battles.
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As Dillard’s president pointed out in his informative thread, there is not currently a bipartisan effort to expand HBCUs’ funding. But UNCF affiliated presidents have been pushing the House Education Committee to boost funding in the upcoming budget.
“Never before has any president put HBCUs central to such transformative plans,” said Lodriguez Murray, senior vice president for public policy and government affairs at UNCF, in an interview with Diverse Issues in Higher Education. “However, the U.S. House bill departs from the Administration’s plans dramatically. HBCUs are standing with President Biden and HBCU Caucus chairwoman Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) in asking for like institutions to compete against their own kind—apples to apples—just as in the three major COVID-19 stimulus packages.” (Read the full article here).
The incident is a good reminder to take a pause and review the allegedly outrageous information before repeating it. It also might mean reading more than just one article to get an understanding of what’s going on.
Pastor Jamal Bryant went live Saturday evening retracting his previous comments concerning the Biden administration allegedly defunding HBCUs. While Bryant is correct that there is a bit more nuance at what is happening, simply saying the Associated Press and U.S. News & World Report aren’t credible doesn’t address the underlying issue. It’s also unclear what particular articles he is referencing.
The Associated Press published a report last week on the current funding battle as it pertains to HBCUs. And U.S. News & World Report republished the piece.
It’s true the reporting could’ve been more precise about what is happening in Congress and not just framing it as a Democrat budget issue. But according to the Associated Press report, Rep. Bobby Scott acknowledged the “unprecedented levels of federal funding over the past two years, more than they have in the past decade combined.” He continued to note the $1.6 billion included under the American Rescue Plan passed earlier this year.
The additional funding has allowed HBCUs to bless students with debt cancellation and wipe clean student account balances. But the schools still need more funding for things like infrastructure investments and supporting research opportunities.