Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Ed. Dept. Speaker Criticizes Republicans

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Ed. Dept. Speaker Criticizes Republicans

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- A former teacher described Govs. George W. and Jeb Bush as racists during a U.S. Department of Education seminar on promoting diversity last month, and at least one lawmaker is demanding an explanation.

Jane Elliot, an author who delivers lectures worldwide on race and bias issues, was invited to the Education Department to deliver a presentation March 8 on how children become prejudiced.

During the presentation, she also advised about 50 employees who attended not to vote for Republican political candidates, department officials acknowledged. The Bushes both are Republicans.

Erica Lepping, a spokeswoman for U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, says that department officials are unclear on the context of the remarks.

"We had no reason to believe Ms. Elliot's presentation would end up with her saying the things she did," Lepping says. "The comments were spontaneous and unanticipated."

Lepping, who did not attend the meeting, says that Leslie Thornton, the department's chief of staff, immediately sent an e-mail memo to staffers denouncing Elliot's political statements as "comments that were inappropriate in an address to federal employees. …

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