(The Center Square) — A group of Georgia lawmakers said the state needs to increase funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Their call follows a letter U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack sent letters to governors in 16 states, including Georgia, asking them to raise HBCU funding.
“This call for action is not just about education,” state Rep. Sandra Scott, D-Rex, said during a recent news conference. “It’s about equity, opportunity and the future of countless students. In a country that prides itself on equality and pursuit of the American dream, it is deeply troubling that such a vast funding gap exists between HBCUs and other public universities.
“The numbers don’t lie,” Scott added. “Over $12 billion — a staggering amount — separate these institutions. This funding gap perpetuates a systemic inequity that we cannot afford to ignore any longer.”
Scott said Fort Valley State University, an 1890 land-grant institution, could have had an additional $603 million over the past 30 years had the school been funded at the same level as the University of Georgia on a per-student basis.
“This is a situation that clearly predates all of us. However, it is a problem that we can work together to solve,” Cardona and Vilsack said in their letter to Kemp. “In fact, it is our hope that we can collaborate to avoid burdensome and costly litigation that has occurred in several states.”
A request for comment from Fort Valley State University went unanswered.
A spokesman for Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, referred questions to the University System of Georgia, which said in an email it is “working to collect data and facts and then will respond to the letter.”
By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor