Press Release: 40 organizations join NCSD in requesting removal of anti-integration riders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
5/31/18

CONTACT
Michael Mouton, Communications & Partnerships Manager
National Coalition on School Diversity
281-796-0570
mmouton@prrac.org

Washington, DC – Over 40 organizations that collectively represent millions of educators, advocates, and other education leaders signed on to two letters submitted to Congress today by the National Coalition on School Diversity (NCSD),  requesting that lawmakers commit to removing anti-integration provisions in their FY 2019 appropriations bills. The provisions have been included in appropriations legislation since at least 1974.

The letters, addressed to House and Senate appropriators, urged Congress to “not include any provisions in the FY 2019 appropriations bills that prohibit federal funding from being used for transportation to further public school racial integration.”

Co-signers include a diversity of organizations and individuals, including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center, School Superintendents Association (AASA), National Education Association, and American Federation of Teachers.

Signers are concerned that the anti-integration provisions will unnecessarily limit states and local communities from utilizing the full range of school improvement techniques and other opportunities available to them under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), stripping them of the very flexibility the law was designed to extend. By barring the use of federal funds to transport students for the purposes of racial integration, these anti-integration provisions undercut educators’ ability to explore innovative and potentially significant reforms.

Specifically, the provisions say:

Section 301: “No funds appropriated in this Act may be used for the transportation of students or teachers (or for the purchase of equipment for such transportation) in order to overcome racial imbalance in any school or school system, or for the transportation of students or teachers (or for the purchase of equipment for such transportation) in order to carry out a plan of racial desegregation of any school or school system.”

Section 302: “None of the funds contained in this Act shall be used to require, directly or indirectly, the transportation of any student to a school other than the school which is nearest the student’s home, except for a student requiring special education, to the school offering such special education, in order to comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For the purpose of this section an indirect requirement of transportation of students includes the transportation of students to carry out a plan involving the reorganization of the grade structure of schools, the pairing of schools, or the clustering of schools, or any combination of grade restructuring, pairing, or clustering. The prohibition described in this section does not include the establishment of magnet schools.”

Despite the outdated thinking this language represents, the research on the benefits of diversity are clear.  Students attending racially and socioeconomically diverse schools have better test scores and higher college attendance rates than peers attending racially segregated schools with high concentrations of poverty.  The benefits from attending diverse schools also continue into adulthood, such as through reduced segregation in neighborhoods, colleges, and workplaces, higher levels of social cohesion, and reduced racial prejudice. Social science also demonstrates the democratic value of meaningful, sustained cross-racial contact among youth.

“NCSD, along with the diverse co-signers of our letter, firmly believe that Sections 301 and 302 are from a bygone era,” said Gina Chirichigno, NCSD director.  “We must no longer passively accept the status quo of their presence in appropriations bills. It’s time for a shift that puts the federal government firmly on the side of local communities that desire to use their federal funds to bolster school integration efforts.”

For more information, please visit www.school-diversity.org/rider2019, which is dedicated to this subject.

About NCSD:

The National Coalition on School Diversity is network of 50+ civil rights organizations, university-based research centers, practitioners, and state and local coalitions working to support government policies that promote school diversity and reduce racial isolation.

www.school-diversity.org

Act Now: Call Congress Re: Anti-Integration Rider

The government’s continuing funding resolution for FY 2018 is set to run out on March 23rd. The House of Representatives may vote this week on a funding bill for the rest of FY 2018. This will likely be our last chance to strike the harmful anti-integration rider this fiscal year. The Senate is expected to vote next week on the bill, so the time for action is NOW!

More information here.

Press Release: DOE Secretary Betsy DeVos pulls funding for Opening Doors, Expanding Opportunities grant program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 3/30/17

CONTACT
Kimberly Hall, Communications & Partnerships Manager
National Coalition on School Diversity
813-802-8206
khall@PRRAC.org

Washington, DC – The National Coalition on School Diversity (NCSD) and our partners are disappointed by Secretary of the Department of Education (DOE) Betsy DeVos’ decision to eliminate funding for the Opening Doors, Expanding Opportunities (ODEO) grant program – denying parents and students an opportunity to reach a community consensus on the best methods of socioeconomic integration in isolated, struggling schools.

As reported by Emma Brown in the Washington Post, an anonymous official from the DOE stated that the program was cancelled because “it would not be a wise use of tax dollars, in part because the money was to be used for planning, not implementation.” This statement is both factually inaccurate and also indicates a misunderstanding of the barriers to school integration – and an injustice to communities interested in coming together to develop new education models for their students.

The intention of the ODEO grant was not only to fund an extended period of public engagement and consultation, but allow applicants with pre-existing integration efforts to implement pre-implementation activities including pilot activities in target schools. Intensive community education and input to the development of socioeconomic integration plans is one of the biggest hurdles school integration efforts face. After the Supreme Court’s 2007 Parents Involved in Community Schools decision, parents and school officials in Louisville, KY, came together to develop a new integration plan. This inclusive community effort resulted in higher educational outcomes for low-income students and African-American students.[i]

The Century Foundation Report, Louisville, Kentucky: A Reflection on School Integration, recognized that the city’s “adoption of stronger socioeconomic measures, as well as its regional approach to desegregation, careful timing, and continued emphasis on school quality represent critical lessons that could be adopted by other regions and school districts willing to put in the work.”

In her speech at the Magnet Schools of America Conference earlier this year, Secretary DeVos stated, “I think experiencing and being a part of a diverse environment is really critical to the development of any young person.”[ii] But when provided with an opportunity to take a step towards helping districts create diverse environments, Secretary DeVos failed to support effective diversity efforts.

Successful integration programs have shown that community consensus takes time to build and is imperative to the improvement of schools and increased academic achievement for all students regardless of socioeconomic status. ODEO would have provided 20 school districts an opportunity to take the first steps towards successful integration efforts.

NCSD Partner Quotes:

“If the Trump Administration is seriously committed to a full range of choice, the fact is that most choice programs usually stratify students by race and that this small program to help school districts create voluntary programs to support integrated schools, which have very well documented benefits and many families desire, and should be part of true choice.” – Gary Orfield, Co-Director, Civil Rights Project, University of California, Los Angeles

“Secretary DeVos continues the sins of school segregation by canceling funds for the Opening Doors grants to promote the proven benefits of school diversity for many schoolchildren of color.” – John Brittain, Professor at University of Washington D.C. Law School and specialist in educational equity

“This is indicative of an Administration that claims to care about the enduring legacy of Brown v. Board, but whose actions instead show a blatant disregard and lack of will to do the work. When I was at the Department helping to craft this grant, we took the necessary time and energy to meet with districts who wanted and needed federal support to pursue diversity strategies in their schools as part of their effort to close the achievement gap and uplift ALL students. The Opening Doors, Expanding Opportunities Grant was a culmination of this deliberative process – and was requested by districts. If Secretary DeVos claims to care about local control, then her actions show otherwise.” – Tanya Clay House, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary DOE Senior Consultant, Schott Foundation for Public Education

About NCSD:

The National Coalition on School Diversity (NCSD) is a network of national civil rights organizations, university-based research centers, and state and local coalitions working to expand support for government policies that promote school diversity and reduce racial and economic isolation in elementary and secondary schools. We also support the work of state and local school diversity practitioners. Our work is informed by an advisory panel of scholars and academic researchers whose work relates to issues of equity, diversity, and desegregation/integration.

www.school-diversity.org


[i] https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/03/the-city-that-believed-in-desegregation/388532/

[ii] https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/03/how-betsy-devos-could-end-the-school-integration-comeback/520113/