Ahead of President Barack Obama's bus tour on college affordability, a White House spokesman said the president "has a bias in favor of historically black colleges and universities."
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 21: White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest speaks during a daily briefing on August 21, 2013 in Washington, DC.Credit: Getty Images
White House spokesman Josh Earnest made the comment while responding to a question during the White House press briefing Tuesday.
"So the record -- the President’s record on these issues -- he has a bias in favor of historically black colleges and universities because of the service they provide and because of the quality education that they provide to their students," Earnest said.
The statement has gotten attention around the Web and it's unclear exactly what Earnest meant by "bias." The word generally has a negative connotation.
Still, the statement seemed to be about Obama's respect or affinity for HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) rather than a preference or a plan to give them an unfair advantage at the expense of other institutions of higher learning, so it could have just been a poor word choice.
Below is the White House transcript and video of the full question-and-answer exchange so you can decide on your own (emphasis added):
Q Josh, since you’re talking about the President and the college tour, well, the tour that he’s having and college is one of the issues, and how college makes many persons middle class, within the middle-class status, there is an issue right now where HBCUs are very concerned and have petitioned the President for a meeting and petitioned the Department of Education about something called the Parent PLUS Loan. It’s a federal loan that has -- now has strict requirements where parents are now being rejected. And many schools are losing money. Apparently if you have a blemish on your credit report over the last five years, you are not getting that loan. What is the President saying about this? Is he planning on meeting with these university presidents? And what is the Education Department going to do about this?
MR. EARNEST: Well, I’m not aware of the specific meeting request, but I can certainly take a look into it.
The President and this administration have been strong supporters of historically black colleges and universities all across the country. Funding for those colleges and universities has increased under President Obama. And the President was pleased to have the opportunity earlier this spring to speak at the commencement at Moorehouse College down in Atlanta. So the record -- the President’s record on these issues -- he has a bias in favor of historically black colleges and universities because of the service they provide and because of the quality education that they provide to their students.
In terms of this issue with the Parent PLUS Loan, I’m not familiar with this specific policy issue. But we can try to find somebody here at the White House who is a little more conversant in the issue who can talk to you about it.
Q Let me clarify something. It’s not just HBCUs as well. We understand a million students from mainstream colleges are not able to go back to school because their parents have blemishes on their credit report, and they're not getting this loan. And it’s a couple hundred thousand kids from HBCUs. So this is an across-the-board issue. HBCUs are really being hurt by it.
MR. EARNEST: Okay. Well, let’s -- let me have somebody in DPC get in touch with you, and we can walk through where we are on that issue.
(H/T: Breitbart News)