Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the people who are currently making history in our country without appearing to know too much about it – American history, that is. On its face, it seems pretentious and judgmental to single out people who are weak in any particular subject area, American history or otherwise. I myself know nothing about many topics, and I think that’s true for just about everyone.
On the other hand, there is something not quite right about Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ praise of historically black colleges as “pioneers” of the school choice movement when in fact they arose in response to Jim Crow policies that had prevented African-Americans from entering public schools at all. She should have known better, and I don’t mean that in any finger-wagging context. I really do believe that she – or any education secretary, for that matter – should have a better handle on historical context to not only prevent future foot-in-mouth incidents, but to engender faith in her ability to make acute observations, sharp analyses and effective, coherent policies.