from reports to 4LAKids
The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights is making education the most important civil rights issue. There will be announcements and meetings with various communities throughout the country. The LA meeting listed below is the first of many.
<<Russlyn Ali (former Executive Director. of the Education Trust West, and currently the Assistant Secretary of Education Office for Civil Rights ) is opening up a dialogue around pressing civil right issues with respect to educational equity in Los Angeles, especially as it pertains to English Language Learners. You, your members/students/clients, or others you know, might want to be a part of this conversation.
Wed. March 10th
St Anne's Conference Center
155 N. Occidental Blvd.
Los Angeles 90026.
There will be small break group break outs so all voices can be heard.
This is a community forum to hear from parents/students/educators/community about their experiences in LAUSD--particularly as related to the education of ELL students. The US Dept of Ed, Office for Civil Rights is preparing to launch systemic investigations across the country to ensure students are free from discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin.
Please spread the word and get as many people out as possible.
Ed officials to step up civil rights enforcement
The Associated Press
Sunday, March 7, 2010 | 10:02 p.m.
The federal Department of Education plans to intensify its civil rights enforcement efforts in schools around the country, including a deeper look at issues ranging from programs for immigrant students learning English to equal access to a college preparatory courses.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan plans to outline the department's plans in a speech delivered Monday in Alabama to commemorate the 45th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," in which several hundred civil rights protesters were beaten by state troopers on Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge during a voting rights march in 1965.
"For us, this is very much about working to meet the president's goal, that by 2020 we will regain our status in the world as the number one producer of college graduates," Russlynn Ali, assistant secretary for civil rights in the Education Department, told The Associated Press.
The department is expecting to conduct 38 compliance reviews around 40 different issues this year, she said.
Though the investigations have been conducted before, the department's Office of Civil Rights is looking to do more complicated and broad reviews that will look not just at whether procedures are in place, but at the impact district practices have on students of one race or another, and if student needs are being met.
"We are about helping kids get a good education, and the education they deserve," Ali said.
In his prepared remarks, Duncan highlights several jarring inequities: At the end of high school, white students are about six times more likely to be college-ready in biology than black students, and more than four times as likely to be prepared for college algebra.
Other statistics he will highlight in Selma:
In addition to the reviews, the department will also be sending guidance letters to all districts and post-secondary institutions receiving federal funding. Ali said the topics cover a breadth of areas, from food allergies to law enforcement procedures for victims of sexual violence and equitable education spending.
The Education Department will work with districts and states to find a voluntary resolution in the event a violation is found. In extreme cases, Ali said funds could be withheld or terminated.
"If the district has viated the civil rights laws and does not come into compliance with them, we could put conditions on existing grants," Ali said.
Duncan will meet with students Monday at Montgomery's Robert E. Lee High School and later walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma with students and civil rights advocates and deliver his speech.
Democratic Rep. Alvin Holmes of Montgomery had asked Duncan to cancel his visit to the Montgomery school because in 1965, the school and its then-principal publicly opposed the Rev. Martin Luther King and the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march. However, officials in Duncan's office said Duncan will meet with students as planned. They say the school is now majority black and the current principal was 2 years old at the time of the march.
Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP's Washington bureau, said he has seen more collaboration and communication with civil rights organizations under the Obama administration, along with a renewed focus on ensuring the civil rights tenets of No Child Left Behind are being enforced, among other measures.
"They have been very deliberate about enforcing our nation's civil rights laws in the area of education," he said.
Others said they are still waiting for stepped up enforcement to take place.
"We haven't seen anything yet," said Raul Gonzalez, director of legislative affairs of the National Council of La Raza. "But I can tell you there's a lot of hope in the civil rights community that we are going to get some really good enforcement around a variety of issues, including education."
Officials Step Up Enforcement of Rights Laws in Education
By SAM DILLON | NY Times
March 8, 2010 -- Seeking to step up enforcement of civil rights laws, the federal Department of Education says it will be sending letters in coming weeks to thousands of school districts and colleges, outlining their responsibilities on issues of fairness and equal opportunity.
As part of that effort, the department intends to open investigations known as compliance reviews in about 32 school districts nationwide, seeking to verify that students of both sexes and all races are getting equal access to college preparatory curriculums and to advanced placement courses. The department plans to open similar civil rights investigations at half a dozen colleges.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan is to announce the initiatives in a speech on Monday in Selma, Ala., where on March 7, 1965, hundreds of civil rights marchers were beaten by Alabama state troopers.
Mr. Duncan plans to say that in the past decade the department’s Office for Civil Rights “has not been as vigilant as it should have been in combating gender and racial discrimination and protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities,” according to a text of the speech distributed to reporters on Sunday.
It continues, “We are going to reinvigorate civil rights enforcement.”
At the end of high school, white students are about six times as likely to be ready to pursue college-level biology courses as black students, and more than four times as likely to be ready for college algebra, department officials said. White high school graduates are more than twice as likely to have taken advanced placement calculus classes as black or Latino graduates.
The department enforces civil rights laws in schools and universities by responding to specific complaints from parents, students and others, but also by scrutinizing its own vast bodies of data on the nation’s school and university systems, looking for signs of possible discrimination. A school seen to be expelling Latino students in numbers far out of proportion to their share of the student population, for instance, might become a candidate for compliance review, officials said.
As it seeks to combat discrimination in schools and universities more aggressively, the administration will be acting in an area in which some Supreme Court rulings in recent years have brought more ambiguity. Federal policy for decades had aimed at compelling school districts to end racial inequality, for instance.
But in examining longstanding desegregation efforts in the Seattle and Jefferson County, Ky., schools in 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that school authorities could not seek to achieve or maintain integration through measures that take explicit account of a student’s race, a decision that seemed to reverse the thrust of four decades of federal policy.
Some civil rights advocates said they had hoped the administration would move more quickly last year to ramp up the activity of the Office for Civil Rights, the department’s second-largest, with 600 employees.
“This whole area has been a dead zone for years, and people were worried that new actions were too slow in coming,” said William L. Taylor, chairman of the Citizens’ Commission on Civil Rights, a Washington group that monitors federal policy and practices. “There had been strong hopes that they would move more quickly. This sounds like positive movement, which we’ve all been asking for.”
Russlyn H. Ali, assistant secretary of education for civil rights, said in an interview that the department would begin 38 compliance reviews before the current fiscal year ended on Oct. 1. That number compares with 29 such reviews carried out last year, 42 in 2008, 23 in 2007 and nine in 2006, she said.
“But the big difference is not in the number of the reviews we intend to carry out, but in their complexity and depth,” Ms. Ali said. “Most of the reviews in the recent past have looked at procedures.”
In cases analyzing potential sex discrimination, for instance, federal investigators would often check to see if schools and universities had grievance procedures in place, and if so, take no enforcement action, she said.
“Now we’ll not simply see whether there is a program in place, but also examine whether that program is working effectively,” she said.
The department plans to begin a major investigation on Wednesday in one of the nation’s largest urban school districts, Ms. Ali said. She declined to identify it because, she said, department officials were still notifying Congress and others of the plans.
The compliance reviews typically involve visits to the school district or university by federal officials based in one or more of the department’s 12 regional offices.
The department intends to send letters offering guidance to virtually all of the nation’s 15,000 school districts and several thousand institutions of post-secondary education, officials said.
The letters will focus on 17 areas of civil rights concern, including possible racial discrimination in student assignments and admissions, in the meting out of discipline, and in access to resources, including qualified teachers. Other areas include possible sex and gender bias in athletics programs, as well as sexual harassment and violence. Other letters will remind districts and colleges of their responsibilities under federal law with regard to disabled students.