Sunday morning, the Department of Education tweeted a quote by W.E.B. Du Bois in the middle of Black History Month — and misspelled his name.
“Education must not simply teach work – it must teach life. – W.E.B. DeBois,” the tweet read, in a mistake that would not have been as newsworthy prior to Betsy DeVos’s confirmation as Secretary of Education. (The Washington Post called the errant department “DeVos’s Education Department”.)
Worse, regardless of whether the intention was to honor Du Bois’ intellectual contributions during this month, it did occur at a time when observers are most sensitive to such oversights. The backlash was understandably swift.
Politico quoted some notable responses:
“Normally not into calling out spelling errors on Twitter because we’ve all been there. But you’re the Department of Education. Of America,” tweeted Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and a candidate for Democratic National Committee chairman.
“In the Days of Loose & Careless Logic, We Must Teach Thinkers to THINK.” – William Edward Burghardt DU Bois,” the NAACP tweeted, adding emphasis to Du Bois’ last name.
“#DeBois is #DeMan! Looking forward to him and #FrederickDouglas starting for the North in the #NBAAllStarWeekend #BlackHistoryMonth” tweeted former Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
But the Department’s social media team were not done engendering facepalms. Three hours later, according to Politico, an apologetic tweet was sent out, noting that a correction had been made to the earlier tweet. The problem? Another misspelling.
“Post updated – our deepest apologizes for the earlier typo,” it said, causing another flurry of responses, before the tweet was again corrected.
Unlike the strange reference President Trump made to Frederick Douglass a few days ago, which White House press secretary Sean Spicer only made worse, the error probably is in no way the fault of the Trump administration. It is doubtful the Secretary has anything to do with quotes posted on social media. Unlike the president, Betsy DeVos is probably not personally posting to the Department’s Twitter page, so WaPo can cool its jets on that front.
It is, however, an especially egregious error to misspell the name of such a famous African-American during Black History Month. And while Du Bois’ name is admittedly difficult, there is no excuse for the Department of Education, of all federal departments, to make such a mistake.
Personally, I have no idea what the Education Department is good for. As I wrote on RedState last week, since there has been no noticeable improvement in education in the 38 years it has existed, I prefer we skip the waste of taxpayer dollars and the contentious confirmation battles, and do away with it altogether.
Since neither of those reasons have thus far swayed the left, maybe adding this error to the list will.