Congress must use the fiscal year 2022 budget to support communities in their efforts to promote racial and socioeconomic integration in their public schools a letter sent to several congressional leaders Monday says.
As our nation becomes increasingly diverse, it is imperative that our school districts keep pace by promoting school integration and its tremendous benefits. The U.S. Department of Education should issue guidance that federal funding can be used for integration.
“We are at a pivotal moment in our nation’s history, and integrated and inclusive schools that will reduce tokenism, break-down stereotypes, and produce cross-cultural understanding and friendships are vital to furthering racial equity,” said David Hinojosa, director of the Educational Opportunities Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Equal educational opportunity is key to ending structural racism and systemic inequality. Congress must use the federal budget to promote the strength of our diversity and help deconstruct those systemic barriers to opportunity.”
The letter specifically asks Congress to:
- Increase funding for the Magnet Schools Assistance Program to at least $500 million, a five-fold increase from the FY 2021 budget;
- Allocate $120 million for a grant program that would support locally-led efforts to develop comprehensive strategies that promote racial and socioeconomic school integration;
- Direct the U.S. Department of Education to release guidance that would make states, districts, and communities aware of this change that unlocks long-standing federal programs and funding sources that can be used to support integrated and inclusive school environments through school transportation; and
- Remind states and districts that the Elementary and Secondary Education Act school improvement funds can be used to support school integration.
“Over the past few years, locally-led integration movements have emerged across the country,” said Gina Chirichigno, director of the National Coalition on School Diversity (NCSD). “As they develop, stakeholders need adequate resourcing and support to do this challenging work well. We urge Congress to take another step toward providing communities with the assistance they need, for the benefit of our students and our society.”
Today, many of our nation’s schools are resegregating at alarming rates, and many students are missing out on the numerous advantages that come with an inclusive and integrated classroom environment. Research shows that higher educational achievement, increased civic participation, and more advanced social and historical thinking are all achieved with an integrated environment. School segregation reinforces inequities, and disproportionately deprives students of color of the critical resources and supports that are needed.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of voting rights, criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and hate crimes. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org.
About the National Coalition on School Diversity—Founded in 2009, the National Coalition on School Diversity (NCSD) is a network of over 50 civil rights organizations, university-based research centers, integration practitioners, and state and local coalitions working to expand support for government policies that promote school diversity and reduce racial isolation. NCSD’s work is informed by an advisory panel of scholars and academic researchers whose work relates to issues of equity, diversity, and desegregation/integration. For more information, please visit https://school-diversity.org.