STATEMENT BY DWAYNE ASHLEY PRESIDENT AND CEO, THURGOOD MARSHALL COLLEGE FUND REGARDING ANNOUNCEMENT BY SECRETARY DUNCAN TO LAUNCH NATIONAL DISCUSSION ON EDUCATION REFORM
STATEMENT BY DWAYNE ASHLEY PRESIDENT AND CEO, THURGOOD MARSHALL COLLEGE FUND
REGARDING ANNOUNCEMENT BY SECRETARY DUNCAN TO LAUNCH NATIONAL DISCUSSION ON EDUCATION REFORM
New York, NY (May 12, 2009) - The Thurgood Marshall College Fund enthusiastically supports the
Obama Administration’s efforts to launch a national discussion on the President’s $100 billion education
agenda. We certainly hope that the listening and learning tour will visit many of the states and
communities near where our 47-member public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
and their 250,000 students are located.
Our minority serving institutions have long been at the forefront of the core issues the Obama
Administration is seeking to address – preparation of students for college-level work, racial and ethnic
diversity, college costs and accessibility, teacher training, student retention and graduation rates, and
science and technology education.
In fact, no sector within the higher education community has more at stake in these debates than do the
nation’s HBCUs, which enroll, almost exclusively, low- and middle-income, and “first-generation”
college students. The HBCU mission of providing access to a college education for minority students
complements and reinforces the administration's push to make a college education affordable for
everyone who wants one.
We believe these initiatives for greater access to college and improved levels of academic achievement
are a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform American higher education as fundamentally as the
advent of the "common school" did for primary education in the 19th century, and the G.I. Bill did for
higher education in the 20th century. However, it cannot succeed without a sustained effort to recruit,
inspire, and educate minority students in far greater numbers than ever before.
Which is where HBCUs come in. For the past five years, we’ve been testing out some innovative public-
private partnerships in underserved communities across the country—working with local school districts,
colleges, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—to increase the college-readiness of minority high
school students in six public schools. We believe these model schools in Maryland, Louisiana, North
Carolina and Texas would offer compelling examples for these discussions around closing the
achievement gaps that currently exist in our secondary schools.
And next month, we move into the next phase with the launch of the HBCU Teacher Quality & Retention
Program to identify, recruit, and train 10,000 new teachers over the next four years. Our first recruits –
200 STEM and education majors – will begin assembling at regional training institutes in Washington,
DC; Pine Bluff, Arkansas; Winston Salem, North Carolina; and San Jose, California. These new teachers
will commit to teaching in our neediest urban and rural school districts for at least three years, and their
progress will be tracked and supported by seasoned educators.
HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions are ideally positioned by virtue of their mission and
expertise to play an essential role in advancing the nation's agenda for higher education. We look forward
to the opportunity to engage more broadly in these discussions.
About Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Inc.
The Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Inc., named for the late U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice, was
established in 1987 and represents 47 public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and 6 Law
Schools located in 22 states with a population of well over 250,000 students. Over the last 21 years, TMCF has
awarded more than $100 million in leadership development, programmatic and capacity support, and scholarships
enabling more than 7,500 students to attend public HBCUs. It is the only national organization of its type that
provides merit-based scholarships and programmatic support to students attending the nation’s public HBCUs.
TMCF also provides internship programs and joins corporate and foundation partners in providing leadership
training and support to students preparing for undergraduate and professional schools. TMCF is a 501(c) 3, tax-