Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Civil Rights Framework for Providing All Students an Opportunity to Learn through Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Check out this recent proposal put out by the following groups:
Mon, 07/26/2010

Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under Law
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
National Council for Educating Black Children
National Urban League
Rainbow PUSH Coalition
Schott Foundation for Public Education

You can download the entire policy brief, Framework for Providing All Students an Opportunity to Learn through Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act here.


Today there is nothing short of a state of emergency in the delivery of education to our nation’s communities of color. As our communities quickly grow on pace to become a numerical majority, it is clear that confronting the issues we face is not just our challenge alone but all of America’s challenge. As a nation, we are failing to provide the highquality educational opportunities that are critical for all students to succeed, thereby jeopardizing our nation’s ability to continue to be a world leader.

As a community of civil rights organizations, we believe that access to a high-quality education is a fundamental civil right. The federal government’s role is to protect and promote that civil right by creating and supporting a fair and substantive opportunity to learn for all students, regardless of where and to whom they were born. This objective is advanced by many components of the proposed FY 2011 education budget and the Blueprint for Reform setting forth the Administration’s priorities for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). For instance, we applaud the Administration’s goal for the United States to become a global leader in post-secondary education attainment by 2020 and its efforts to develop specific strategies for turning around low-performing schools.

While there are numerous positive aspects of the Administration’s education agenda, more comprehensive reforms are necessary to build a future where equitable educational opportunity is the rule, not the exception. As civil rights organizations, it is our responsibility to seek to close and ultimately eliminate the opportunity and achievement gaps experienced by communities of color. To this end, we outline six major principles that we will collectively advocate to strengthen the ESEA and ensure that the federal government provides the support necessary to protect every child’s civil right to a highquality education:

1. Equitable opportunities for all;
2. Utilization of systematically proven and effective educational methods;
3. Public and community engagement in education reforms;
4. Safe and educationally sound learning environments;
5. Diverse learning environments; and
6. Comprehensive and substantive accountability systems to maintain equitable opportunities and high outcomes.

The comments that follow offer critiques of federal efforts that would: distribute resources by competition in the midst of a severe recession; advance experimental proposals dwarfed by the scope of the challenges in low-income communities; and promote ineffective approaches for turning around low-performing schools and education systems.

But, more importantly, we also offer specific recommendations to implement the principles outlined above. We advance proposals to leverage federal resources available to all states in order to create the preconditions to achieve equitable opportunities for all. As a part of extending an opportunity to learn as a civil right, we call for: “universal” early education for all students in all states; policies that will provide access to highly effective teachers for all students, including incentives to recruit and retain well-prepared, highly effective teachers in high–need, low-income, and rural areas; and community schools that offer wraparound services and strong, engaging instruction with adequate supports. We urge the federal government to institutionalize a federal resource accountability system so that students, parents, and teachers will have the school and community resources necessary for students to achieve high standards, regardless of where they live.

In recent weeks, we have engaged officials within the Administration to advance these ideas, and have begun to engage Congressional leaders, as well. In the coming months, we will hold discussions in communities across the country to amplify and augment the key prescriptions outlined here.

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