Diverse classroom2

With data pointing to increased segregation in the U.S. education system, two Capitol Hill lawmakers have introduced legislation to increase diversity in public schools across the nation.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, recently introduced the Stronger Together School Diversity Act of 2016.

The bill would provide grants to states to plan and implement new and help expand existing community-grown diversity initiatives.

Brown v. Board ruled more than 60 years ago that ‘separate is not equal,’ yet it is obvious that many schools are suffering from the effects of “de facto” segregation,” said Fudge, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, in a statement. “This bill will help bring parity of access and resources to schools across the nation, provide a platform to address inequities within our current education system, and help give all of our students a chance to succeed.”

As the AFRO previously reported, the federal Government Accounting Office in April released an analysis showing that public K-12 schools in the United States were increasingly being segregated along racial and economic lines. The report indicated that those schools where minorities and the poor were concentrated suffered from educational inequities, such as fewer college preparatory courses and higher rates of suspensions and expulsions.

Another report released by the Department of Education in May also showed a lack of diversity within the educator workforce, with Whites representing 82 percent of the teachers and principals in elementary and secondary schools across the nation.

Addressing school diversity is something the Obama administration has identified as a priority, and new U.S. Education Secretary John B. King Jr. said the proposed legislation can help make true diversity in schools a reality.

“Today, diversity is not a nicety but a necessity,” King said in a statement. “Diversity is critical, not just for some students, but for all of our students. There are communities and neighborhoods and schools all over this country where educators, parents, and students understand this and are pushing for more diversity in their schools. The legislation introduced by Senator Murphy and Congresswoman Fudge will support and expand these efforts.”

 

Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO