Washington, D.C. – Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Assistant Secretary Russlynn Ali announced plans for reinvigorated enforcement of federal civil rights laws in school districts and colleges to ensure that every child has an equal opportunity to learn.
The Department of Education plans to issue new guidance to school districts and colleges clarifying their responsibilities for equal treatment of all students, regardless of race, gender, or disability, and to launch in-depth compliance reviews of 32 districts and six colleges to ensure that all students have access to a quality education.
In support of this announcement, leaders of eight national civil rights groups released the following statements:
“In Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court affirmed the right of all children to equal educational opportunities. Sadly, over 50 years later, too many states and school districts continue to tolerate chronically failing schools that deny a quality education to too many children. Quality education is a fundamental civil and human right. When states and districts perpetuate a system of unequal resources and programs, federal leadership that includes vigorous enforcement of civil rights laws is essential.” – Wade Henderson, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
“We commend the Department of Education for revitalizing efforts to enforce landmark civil rights laws, including Title IX, which has had far-reaching benefits for all students. Promoting equity and fairness in our schools is not only the right thing to do but is also necessary to drive our country’s economy forward.” – Marcia Greenberger, co-President of the National Women’s Law Center
“We welcome a reinvigorated approach to enforcement of the civil rights of students with disabilities. In this year when we mark the 20thanniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 35th anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, there is a real opportunity to raise the bar to ensure that students with disabilities receive the services and supports that they need to achieve their full potential.” – Andrew J. Imparato, President CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities
“We are pleased to have the federal government as a partner again in securing a high quality education as every child’s civil right. Returning to rigorous enforcement and clear guidance about laws already on the books is the first step toward ensuring that every child receives an equitable, high-quality, inclusive education.” – Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP
“NCLR welcomes the Administration’s efforts to ensure that every child is provided equitable educational opportunities. Enforcement of civil rights laws is a critical element of this strategy, and one that has been absent for too long.” – Janet Murguía, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza
“Today’s announcement is a good first step in the Administration’s effort to overhaul our education system and improve opportunities for minorities. We must ensure that all children have access to a quality education, and we applaud Secretary Duncan for making civil rights enforcement a top priority for the Department of Education.” – Karen Narasaki, President and Executive Director of the Asian American Justice Center
“We applaud the Department of Education’s renewed commitment and demand that schools and universities serve all children, regardless of background or circumstance.” – John Payton, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund
“Given how critical Latino and African American youth are to our future, closing the achievement gap is our nation's most important education goal. Reinvigorated federal enforcement of civil rights in our schools, like that announced today, is an essential step toward beginning to achieve that goal.” – Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
The Leadership Conference Education Fund
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