STATEMENT: Education Department Civil Rights Data Underscore Need to Push for Equity in Education, Says CAP’s Carmel Martin
Washington, D.C. — Educational inequities—from access to early learning opportunities and advanced courses to the use of school discipline—are persistent across U.S. schools, new data from the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education show. Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement:
More than 50 years ago, civil rights laws enacted by President Lyndon Johnson, such as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, laid the groundwork for the notion that the U.S. education system should serve as a critical tool in the war against poverty and inequality. That law, and other civil rights bills that followed in its footsteps—such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act—have helped move our education system in the direction of justice and equality for all. New data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights show that, while we have made significant progress, far more needs to be done to ensure that all students—regardless of their background, ZIP code, ability, or the color of their skin—have access to a high-quality education.
More often than not, it is our most vulnerable children—students of color, low-income students, English language learners, and students with disabilities—who bear the brunt of such inequality, including a lack of access to early learning opportunities and advanced courses. In K-12 settings, these children are also disproportionately the recipients of school disciplinary actions and suspensions. In early childhood settings, very young African American children see far higher rates of such actions. Inequality has no place in our schools, and these stark statistics remind us of the need to continue the fight for real and tangible equity in education.
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