WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (Ohio-11), a member of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, on Thursday introduced the Strength in Diversity Act, legislation to promote diversity in schools. Specifically, the legislation authorizes $120 million in grants to support new and expand existing voluntary community-driven strategies to increase diversity in schools.
“Racial and economic isolation exists throughout the country, and Connecticut is no different. This hurts all students, but especially students of color or in low-income communities. Congress needs to step up and do what we can to make sure school districts have the necessary tools to increase diversity in schools, which we know will help close the achievement gap,” Murphy said.
“Access to a quality education has become the civil rights issue of our time,” said Rep. Fudge. “We currently have a Department of Education – under the leadership of Secretary DeVos – that is actively undermining students’ civil rights protections. Increasing diversity in staff, resources, and student populations in our public schools should be a top priority. That is why I am pleased to once again be the House sponsor of the Strength in Diversity Act of 2018. The bill will help provide equitable access and resources for schools across the nation, work to address other inequities within our education system, and give every student the chance they deserve.”
“Social science research demonstrating the benefits of school integration for students, families, and communities is clear. Bringing children of different backgrounds together increases academic achievement, furthers racial harmony and understanding, and can help break down class lines. As the Government Accountability Office has documented, as a whole, our schools are moving backward not forward on the issue of integration. Why are we separating our communities and yielding unequal, harmful outcomes for our children? This bill introduced and championed by Senator Murphy and Congresswoman Fudge is grounded in the principles of Brown v. Board of Education. Separate is still not equal. Congress should pass the Strength in Diversity Act to promote and incentivize this vital work of addressing segregation, for which there is both need and demand in communities across our country,” said Phil Tegeler, The National Coalition on School Diversity.
According to the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, socioeconomic and racial segregation in schools have increased dramatically in the past decade. Schools that are highly socioeconomically and racially segregated generally have fewer resources and students experience disproportionally more disciplinary actions than students in more diverse schools.
Specifically, the Strength in Diversity Act:
- Authorizes $120 million to provide planning and implementation grants to support voluntary local efforts to increase socioeconomic diversity in schools. Grants could fund a range of proposals, including (but not limited to):
- Studying segregation, evaluating current policies, and developing evidence-based plans to address socioeconomic and racial isolation
- Establishing public school choice zones, revising school boundaries, or expanding bussing service
- Creating or expanding innovative school programs that can attract students from outside the local area
- Recruiting, hiring, and training new teachers to support specialized schools
- Supports school districts, independently or in collaboration with neighboring districts, as well as regional educational authorities and educational service agencies.
The Strength in Diversity Act has been endorsed by the following organizations: National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, National Urban League, National Coalition on School Diversity, Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Magnet Schools of America, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Poverty & Race Research Action Council, Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles – UCLA, National Council of Jewish Women, and Girls, Inc.
The bill has been co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)