Press Release: Education and Civil Rights Groups Urge Congress to Use the Federal Budget to Increase Access to Integrated and Inclusive Schools

Public Schools are Resegregating at Alarming Rates, Leaving Behind the Tremendous Benefits That Come with Diversity

Congress must use the fiscal year 2022 budget to support communities in their efforts to develop and implement strategies that promote racial and socioeconomic integration in their public schools, and direct the Department of Education to issue guidance that federal funding can be used for integration, a letter sent to several congressional leaders today says. As our nation becomes increasingly diverse, it is imperative that our school districts keep pace by promoting school integration and its tremendous benefits. The U.S. Department of Education should issue guidance that federal funding can be used for integration.

“Over the past few years, locally-led integration movements have emerged across the country,” said Gina Chirichigno, director of the National Coalition on School Diversity (NCSD). “As they develop, stakeholders need adequate resourcing and support to do this challenging work well. We urge Congress to take another step toward providing communities with the assistance they need, for the benefit of our students and our society.”

The letter, signed by 40 organizations, specifically asks Congress to:

  • Increase funding for the Magnet Schools Assistance Program to at least $500 million, a five-fold increase from the FY 2021 budget;
  • Allocate $120 million for a grant program that would support locally-led efforts to develop comprehensive strategies that promote racial and socioeconomic school integration;
  • Build upon its action in December to strike the last standing prohibition on the use of federal funds for transportation to support school integration, by directing the U.S. Department of Education to release guidance that would make states, districts, and communities aware of this change that unlocks long-standing federal programs and funding sources that can be used to support integrated and inclusive school environments through school transportation; and
  • Remind states and districts that the Elementary and Secondary Education Act school improvement funds can be used to support school integration.
“We are at a pivotal moment in our nation’s history, and integrated and inclusive schools that will reduce tokenism, break-down stereotypes, and produce cross-cultural understanding and friendships are vital to furthering racial equity,” said David Hinojosa, director of the Educational Opportunities Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “It has been proven that equal educational opportunity is key to ending structural racism and systemic inequality. Congress must use the federal budget to promote the strength of our diversity and help deconstruct systemic barriers to opportunity.”

Today, many of our nation’s schools are resegregating at alarming rates, and many students are missing out on the numerous advantages that come with an inclusive and integrated classroom environment. Research shows that higher educational achievement, increased civic participation, and more advanced social and historical thinking are all achieved with an integrated environment. School segregation reinforces inequities, and disproportionately deprives students of color of the critical resources and supports that are needed.

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