Center calls on US DOE to prioritize diversity in i3 grants

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The Center for Civil Rights joined a national coalition of education and civil rights advocates calling on the US Department of Education to encourage school diversity as a factor in grants through the Department’s Investing in Education ("i3") fund. Read the coalition’s comment letter (PDF).

The i3 program provides funds to support local education agencies, as well as nonprofit organizations partnered with local education agencies or consortiums of schools, where those applicants can show that they use or plan to implement education practices with a proven record of effectiveness in improving student achievement. The goal of such grants is to expand innovative practices demonstrated to improve achievement overall, close achievement gaps, decrease dropout and increase graduation rates, or increase college enrollment and completion.

The Department called for comments on the December 2012 “Proposed priorities, requirements, definitions and selection criteria” for the i3 fund, specifically on ten proposed selection priorities:

  1. Improving the effectiveness of teachers or principals
  2. Improving low-performing schools
  3. Improving STEM education
  4. Improving academic outcomes for students with disabilities
  5. Improving outcomes for English Learners
  6. Improving parent and family engagement
  7. Improving cost-effectiveness and productivity
  8. Effective use of technology
  9. Formalizing and codifying effective practices
  10. Serving rural communities

The Center and coalition members called on the Department to include “promoting diversity” as a priority to be used in evaluating i3 grant applications. The Department has repeatedly stated that school diversity is a priority, especially in its December 2011 memoranda, “Guidance on the Voluntary Use of Race to Achieve Diversity and Avoid Racial Isolation in Elementary and Secondary Schools,” and “Guidance on the Voluntary Use of Race to Achieve Diversity in Postsecondary Education.” Though all the proposed priorities serve laudable goals, without including diversity in its funding priorities, the Department again misses an important opportunity to promote greater inclusion and educational equity.

In June 2012, the Center for Civil Rights also called upon the Department to promote K-12 diversity in its proposed Race to the Top-District Guidelines.

Education advocates await a decision from the US Supreme Court on the Fisher v. Texas case regarding the continuing need for race-conscious and diversity-promoting higher education admission policies. Center attorneys Mark Dorosin and Elizabeth Haddix, along with UNC Law School Dean Jack Boger and University Counsel, submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court on behalf of the University of North Carolina. See Fisher Amici speak on Constitution Day panel; CCR Staff, UNC Law Professors perform Fisher arguments

Posted by Taiyyaba A. Qureshi on Thu. January 17, 2013 9:48 AM
Categories: Education, Segregation
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