Civil rights advocates praised updated guidelines for addressing racial disparities in schools across the country.
The changes were made by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Education and recommended additional measures to close the Black-White achievement gap.
“The Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin, in programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance,” stated the guidance. “School districts that receive federal funds must not intentionally discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin, and must not implement facially neutral policies that have the unjustified effect of discriminating against students on the basis of race, color, or national origin.”
In a recent blog post on the new guidelines on equal access to educational resources Catherine Lhamon, the assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education said that all students deserve equal access to educational resources like academic and extracurricular programs, strong teaching, facilities, technology and instructional materials, no matter their race, color or national origin. “Our most recent Civil Rights Data Collection shows that only two out of three Latino high school students and three out of five Black high school students attend schools that offer the full range of math and science courses, defined by OCR as Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II, calculus, biology, chemistry and physics,” said Lhamon.
The guidance, issued in the form of a “dear colleague” letter said that “schools serving more students of color are less likely to offer advanced courses and gifted and talented programs than schools serving mostly white populations and students of color are less likely than their white peers to be enrolled in those courses and programs within schools that have those offerings.”
According to the guidance, one in five Black high school students attend a high school that does not provide Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
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