Press Release: NCSD Lauds the Introduction of the Strength in Diversity Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 05/10/19

Washington, DC – This week, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Rep. Marcia Fudge (OH-11) respectively introduced the Senate and House of Representatives versions of the Strength in Diversity Act. Specifically, the NCSD-endorsed proposed legislation would provide support and funding for voluntary, local efforts to further the socioeconomic and racial integration of schools. As we approach the 65th anniversary of the Brown decision, it is commendable that Congress is taking steps to support students and the educators working to develop their potential on a day-to-day basis.

Additionally, it is clear that the sponsors along with the co-sponsors, Reps. Bobby Scott (VA-03) and Gregorio Sablan (D-MP), as well as Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Bernie Sanders (D-VT), understand the important role integrated schools play in our diverse, democratic society. As we noted in a 2018 research brief, Re-Weaving the Social Fabric Through Integrated Schools: How Intergroup Contact Prepares Youth to Thrive in a Multiracial Society: “Socioeconomically and racially integrated schools help students to discover their commonalities, and to acknowledge meaningful differences in perspective and experience, which can enhance mutual understanding and foster inclusion and participation in a multicultural democracy.”

Specifically, the Strength in Diversity Act would:

  • Authorize federal funding to provide planning and implementation grants to support voluntary local efforts to increase racial and socioeconomic diversity. Grants could fund a range of proposals, including (but not limited to):
    • Studying segregation, evaluating current policies, and developing evidence-based plans to address racial and socioeconomic isolation;
    • Establishing public school choice zones and revising school boundaries;
    • Creating or expanding innovative school programs that can attract students from outside the local area; and
    • Recruiting, hiring, and training new teachers to support specialized schools.

NCSD Steering Committee Members’ Reactions:

Susan Eaton, Professor of Practice & Director, The Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University: “In a time marked by divisive politics, it is deeply inspiring to see two stellar elected officials propose legislation that recognizes both the harm of segregation and the potential of true integration to enhance learning for all, to equalize opportunities for social mobility and to reduce racism and prejudice. We thank Senator Murphy and Rep. Fudge for responding to the calls of young people, parents and educators across the country who are asking for new structures, policies and practices to create, sustain and improve diverse and equitable public schools.”

Matt Gonzales, Director of the School Diversity Project, New York Appleseed:  “We applaud Senator Murphy and Rep. Fudge for introducing the Strength in Diversity Act, a bill that should provide much-needed federal support for districts to develop, implement, or expand school integration initiatives. For too long, the federal government has dropped the ball on its commitment to achieve the mandate of the 1954 Brown decision. Despite this intransigence, cities and states across the country have taken the lead in building diverse and equitable schools, and the Strength in Diversity Act offers a meaningful opportunity, and necessary resources to support these voluntary efforts. As our student partners at IntegrateNYC have said, it has been 65 years since the Brown decision, and it is long overdue that we #RetireSegregation!”

Elaine Gross, President of ERASE Racism: “This is an important bill, because it recognizes and addresses the reality that racial segregation in public schools is growing. This has profound consequences for those students whose needs are inadequately addressed and for the nation as a whole, which misses out on the educational benefits of diversity. This bill will enhance crucial efforts to increase diversity in education, which is a local need and should be a national priority.”

Philip Tegeler, President/Executive Director of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council: “It’s a sophisticated bill that understands that school segregation in the 21st century is about both racial and economic isolation, and that more often than not, segregation happens across school district lines. This bill also recognizes the reciprocal relationships among schools, housing, and transportation, and encourages districts to plan holistically.”

 

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