There she goes again. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has sparked a new controversy, this time making comments about historically black colleges and universities that betrayed ignorance of the history of HBCUs and racial segregation in the United States.

DeVos, who has been education secretary for only three weeks, issued a statement Monday evening after meeting HBCU leaders. The statement said this about historically black colleges and universities:

They started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education. They saw that the system wasn’t working, that there was an absence of opportunity, so they took it upon themselves to provide the solution. HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice. They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.

DeVos has been focused on promoting school choice — vouchers, charter schools, private schools and other alternatives to the traditional public education system for decades, but this was a step apart from other statements she has made in support of  “choice.” This time she touted HCBUs as choice “pioneers” rather than a reaction to institutionalized racism that prevented blacks from attending white schools.

Although she made a speech on Tuesday — noting that “the traditional school system systemically failed to provide African Americans access to a quality education — or, sadly, more often to any education at all” — she didn’t really clean up the mess, and she wound up  adding ammunition to critics who say that DeVos does not understand fundamental aspects of public education and its history.

During her Jan. 17 confirmation hearing before the Senate Education Committee, she could not discuss a key federal law protecting students with disabilities — and didn’t seem to know that it was a federal law — and could not discuss how student progress on standardized tests is measured. She was confirmed by the Senate only after Mike Pence became the first vice president in American history to break a tie for a Cabinet nominee.

She recently drew the wrath of teachers at a D.C. public school that she had visited, saying that they seemed to be in “receive mode,” waiting to be told what to do.

The HBCU comments by DeVos — presumably written by  someone at the Education Department — adds to criticism that the Trump administration has no real connection to African Americans and their history.

On Feb. 12, someone at the Education Department posted a tweet that misspelled the name of W.E.B. Du Bois, a black sociologist, historian, civil rights activist and co-founder of the NAACP, the oldest civil rights organization in the United States. That followed comments by President Trump in which he seemed to think that black abolitionist Frederick Douglass — who died in 1895 — was still alive:

“Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice.”

Not surprisingly, DeVos’s comments about HBCUs sparked a strong reaction on Twitter from academics and others. Among the most critical comments came from Democratic senators, including Patty Murray of Washington, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, and Robert P. Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania.

And here are some other comments: —