Tag Archives: universal preK

FACT SHEET: President Biden Announces New Actions to Advance Racial and Educational Equity on 70th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education

This fact sheet detailing new actions by the Biden Administration to advance racial and educational equity, announced on the 70th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, was provided by the White House:

On the 70th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education (Brown) decision, which outlawed racially segregated schools – deeming them unequal and unconstitutional – the Biden-Harris Administration highlights new actions with the release of additional funding and resources to support school diversity and advance the goal that all students have access to a world-class education. © Karen Rubin/news-photo-features.com

President Biden believes every student deserves access to a high-quality education that prepares them to be the next generation of leaders. Today, on the 70th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education (Brown) decision, which outlawed racially segregated schools – deeming them unequal and unconstitutional – the Biden-Harris Administration highlights new actions with the release of additional funding and resources to support school diversity and advance the goal that all students have access to a world-class education. 

Research shows that racial achievement gaps are strongly associated with school segregation, in turn because schools with high concentrations of Black and Latino students receive fewer resources. The desegregation of schools that followed Brown led to a 30 percent increase in graduation rates for Black students and a 22 percent increase for Latino students. As school districts were released from court-ordered desegregation, research shows that in the 1960s and 1970s, school integration increased rapidly, but that trend has reversed in the past two decades when both racial and economic segregation increased. For example, segregation between white and Black students is up 64 percent since 1988, while segregation by economic status has grown by 50 percent since 1991. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s State of School Diversity Report, racially and socioeconomically isolated schools often lack critical resources and learning experiences and opportunities that prepare students for college and career success. The Department of Education report found that three in five Black and Latino students and two in five American Indian/Alaska Native students attend schools where at least 75% of students are students of color and 42% of white students attend schools where students of color make up less than 25% of the population. 

The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring the educational success of every child, and to address racial segregation in our schools that leads to worse educational outcomes for children, including through investments in local efforts to increase diversity and equal opportunity. The Administration is focused on academic acceleration and has made record levels of investment in K-12 schools and institutions of higher education to help improve opportunity for all. This includes supporting districts as they work to strengthen and diversify the education profession, enrich educational experiences, and improve school climate and conditions for robust learning.

New Actions to Advance Racial and Educational Equity

To advance racial and educational equity and continue the work of Brown to support educational opportunity for all students, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the following new actions today:

  • New Magnet School Grants. The Department of Education’s Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) will invest $20 million in new awards for school districts in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Texas to establish magnet programs designed to further desegregate public schools by attracting students from different social, economic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds. The President’s 2025 budget request includes $139 million for MSAP and $10 million to continue investments in the Fostering Diverse Schools program.
  • Establishing a new technical assistance center to help states and school districts provide more equitable and adequate approaches to school funding. The U.S. Department of Education announced a new Technical Assistance Center on Fiscal Equity as part of the Comprehensive Centers Program. The Center on Fiscal Equity will provide capacity-building services to support states and school districts build equitable and adequate resource allocation strategies, improve the quality and transparency of fiscal data, and prioritize supports for students and communities with the greatest need.
  • New Data on Equal Access to Math and Science Courses. The Department of Education Office for Civil Rights is releasing a new Civil Rights Data Collection report highlighting students’ access to and enrollment in mathematics, science, and computer science courses and academic programs, drawing from information in the 2020-21 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). The report reflects stark continuing racial inequities in access to math, science, and computer science courses for students in high schools with high concentrations of Black and Latino students. 
  • Preserving African American History. To further advance the President’s Executive Order on Promoting the Arts, the Humanities, and Museum and Library Services, the Administration is launching an interagency process to develop new actions by the Federal Government to preserve African American history – including preserving historic sites, protecting and increasing access to literature, and ensuring the public, including students, has continuing access to resources. This effort will bolster African American history and culture as integral, indelible parts of American history.

Investing in Underserved Schools

  • Under the American Rescue Plan, the nation’s schools received $130 billion in funding – the most in our Nation’s history – with a focus on undeserved schools. The American Rescue Plan also included new requirements that have driven nearly $800 million in State additional education funding, above and beyond the federal investment, to the most underserved school by protecting schools with high rates of poverty from reductions in State and local education funding.
  • To date, the Biden-Harris Administration has secured nearly $2 billion in additional Title I funding to support our schools with the highest need, for a record $18.4 billion in annual funding.
  • The Biden-Harris Administration has also increased funding for Full-Service Community Schools five-fold, from $30 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 to $150 million in FY 2024 so that underserved schools, including those that serve a majority of students of color, have the additional resources they need to help deliver more services to students and their families, such as health care, housing, and child care, to close resource and opportunity gaps.

Increasing Teacher Diversity

Research indicates that educator diversity can improve student achievement and help close achievement gaps. For example, one study found that Black students randomly assigned to at least one Black teacher in grades K-3 were nearly 19% more likely to enroll in college than their same-school, same-race peers.

  • The Administration is prioritizing efforts to increase educator diversity across 15 competitive grant programs that support teacher preparation, development, recruitment, and retention. These programs awarded nearly $450 million to 263 grantees, 92 percent of which were to grantees that addressed specific priorities related to educator diversity.
  • The Administration secured and awarded a total of more than $23 million in first-time ever funding for the Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence Grant program which provides grants to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs), and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) for teacher preparation programs to increase the number of well-prepared teachers, including teachers of color and multilingual educators.

Strengthening School Diversity

  • During this Administration, the Department of Education is investing more than $300 million in programs that increase school diversity This includes increased investment in the Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP), which aims to reduce racial isolation, including by creating highly effective schools, and the creation of the Fostering Diverse Schools Demonstration Program (FDS), a new initiative to increase school socioeconomic diversity, which awarded more than $14 million in new grants.
  • In August 2023 after the Supreme Court effectively ended affirmative action in college admissions, the Department of Education released a Dear Colleague Letter on Race and School Programming to guide schools on lawful programs to promote racially inclusive school communities and, along with the Department of Justice, a Dear Colleague Letter and a Questions and Answers Resource to help colleges and universities understand the Supreme Court’s decision as they continue to pursue campuses that are racially diverse and that include students with a range of viewpoints, talents, backgrounds, and experiences. The Department of Education published a resource summarizing specific guidance describing Federal legal obligations to ensure that all students have equal access to education regardless of race, color, or national origin.
  • The Department of Education issued a new rule requiring, among other things, many Charter School Program applicants to assure that proposed charter schools would not negatively affect any desegregation efforts in the communities in which charters are to be located.

Closing the School Readiness Gap

Because of the legacy of discrimination, Black children start school on average nearly seven months behind their white peers in reading. One study finds that one year of universal high-quality pre-K could eliminate most of that gap. Others indicate that students who go to preschool are nearly 50% more likely to finish high school and go on to a college degree. Each of the President’s budgets have included proposals that would provide preschool to every four-year-old in the country. In addition:

  • President Biden has secured an additional $1.5 billion for Head Start and nearly a 50% increase in funding for the Child Care & Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program, which helps low-income families afford child care. Approximately 30% of children and families receiving high-quality Head Start services are Black and close to 40% of families benefiting from CCBDG are Black. 
  • The American Rescue Plan provided $24 billion to stabilize child care. Over 44% of programs that received assistance were owned or operated by people of color and 53% of providers receiving stabilization funds were operating in the most racially diverse counties.

The Department of Education released guidance on how districts can leverage the increases the President has secured for Title I to expand access to high-quality preschool services, including through partnerships with Head Start programs. This is the first Department of Education preschool guidance in more than a decade.

New Yorkers Need to Demand State Legislators Support Cuomo’s Women’s Agenda

New York State Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul addresses the Council on Women and Girls Regional Forum at Long Island University: “The torch has now been passed to us. Our job is not just to pass it along, but to make sure it glows even brighter, so we look back 100 years from now, and can say, yes, we made a difference in lives in a profound way © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

New York State, the birthplace of women’s rights, is pushing for a second round of legislation to address persistent and institutional gender inequity. The state legislature needs to hear from advocates before the April 1 budget deadline.

It is laudable that these initiatives – in categories of Health, Safety, Workplace, Girls, and Family being forcefully advanced by Governor Cuomo – came after months of information gathering, listening tours, and the formation of regional Women’s Councils, coordinated by the governor’s Director of Women’s Affairs, Kelli Owens. Just having such a position is notable.

As Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, a singular champion of women’s rights in New York State, said in her remarks that opened the Council on Women and Girls Regional Forum at Long Island University on March 1,The genesis for the Council of Women and Girls came because of Washington – on the day the president said ‘We don’t need to be concerned’ and abolished the [Obama-era] Commission on Women and Girls, our governor, as in so many cases [climate action, environmental protection, gun control], stepped up to fill void created by Washington.”

Trump has moved aggressively to roll back gains women have made: restoring being a woman as a “pre-condition” for medical insurance, overturning the mandate that insurance companies provide contraception without co-pays, attacking Title X funding for health clinics including Planned Parenthood, advocating for legislation to curtail access to abortion.

Unless Congress takes action, the Violence Against Women Act will run out of funding in September. This landmark piece of legislation is a life-saver. Since its original passage, domestic violence cases are down by more than 65% nationally. If Congress’ “action” on reauthorizing CHIP is an indication, the Republican-controlled Congress will likely let this lapse as well, even as they cut billions of dollars for programs that directly affect women and families.

New York State – which Cuomo never fails to point out has been a progressive leader for the nation, a status he has worked to reclaim – has made some important gains during his administration, including aggressively pushing for economic development opportunities for Minority & Women-owned Enterprises, for wider access to pre-K programs, gun control, access to health care and guarantee for women’s reproductive rights.

In this second round of legislation and policies – notably several of which need to be adopted by the State Legislature before the April 1 deadline for adopting the budget – he is going after sexual harassment, pay equity, domestic violence, expanding access to child care, educational opportunities, job training and business investment.

New York has been celebrating the centennial of Women’s Suffrage since 1917, the year the state on its own gave women the right to vote, three years before the nation adopted the 19th Amendment.

But despite New York’s progressive policies, New York women still earn less than men for the same work: white women 89c, African American 66c, Hispanic women 54 c in New York, “and we’re the good state, where people are better off. Does that not tell you we have a long way to go?” Hochul said.

“We are convening forums around the state, to drill down why this is happening – part is institutional, cultural, part is that women don’t have childcare but want to continue on a career track, have talent, brilliance, but are primarily responsible for making sure kids are okay and there is not enough child care.” Also parental leave, not just for a newborn or adoption, but when a child or parent gets sick.

“You should be proud your state recognizes this challenge – we now have the most generous paid family leave policy – to relieve the stress of possibly losing a job when you are home with a new baby.”

“It’s about economic empowerment: getting more girls into STEM education and careers. It’s about safety and security – domestic violence” – something that has been crystallized in the Trump White House, notably with the tolerance of a credibly accused wife-beater as Trump’s secretary.

Budget initiatives (see details at https://www.ny.gov/2018-womens-opportunity-agenda-new-york/womens-opportunity-agenda-proposals) include:

Health initiatives: passing Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act codifying access to contraception; codifying Roe v. Wade into state law and constitution to insure health care professionals can provide these crucial services without fear of criminal penalty; mandating insurance coverage and insuring access to IVF and fertility services; combat maternal depression and establish a maternal mortality review board (NY ranks 30th in maternal mortality); add experts in women’s health and health disparities to the State Board of Medicine.

Safety: pass the Equal Rights Amendment to add sex as a protected class; remove firearms from domestic abusers; combat sextortion and revenge porn; extend storage timeline for forensic rape kits at hospitals (from 30 days to at least five years, or when the victim turns 19); advance legislation to amend the Human Rights Law to protect all public school students from discrimination.

Workplace: combat sexual harassment in the workplace; call on NYS Common Retirement Fund to invest in companies with women and minority leadership; reauthorize the State’s Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise Program; close the gender wage gap; support women returning to or advancing in the workforce with job training and placement services; invest $20 million in Women-Owned Businesses;  encourage more use of flexible work schedules.

Girls: expand access to computer science and engineering (STEM); launch “If You Can See It You Can Be It,” a day for girls to see what is possible; create K-12 learning module on healthy relationships; legislation requiring school districts to provide free menstrual products, in restrooms, for girls in grades 6 through 12.

Family: invest $25 million to expand pre-K and after-school programs; increase state funding by $7 million  to provide working families with affordable child care; continue enhanced Child Care Tax Credit for working families; establish a new Child Care Availability Task Force.

“All these areas converge,” Colleen Merlo, Executive Director, Long Island Against Domestic Violence, said. “Gender equality cannot be achieved unless we address all these buckets….We see that women lose time at work because of domestic violence, so if we don’t create safety at home, they are losing time at work, so are not advancing, not getting equal pay or promotion – all are interconnected with safety.”

It’s also about making it easier to vote, adding early voting (which NYS doesn’t yet have), so women who work and care for children aren’t shut out of casting a ballot – part of Cuomo’s “Democracy Agenda.”

“The torch has now been passed to us,” Hochul stated. “Our job is not just to pass it along, but to make sure it glows even brighter, so we look back 100 years from now, and can say, yes, we made a difference in lives in a profound way, that we spoke up for people without voices.”

What to do? First: contact state representatives to urge them to vote on the budget and legislation bolstering the Women’s Agenda. Planned Parenthood of Nassau County, among others, is mounting a lobbying day in Albany on March 13, to join Cecile Richards, President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and more than 1,000 activists from across New York State, to advocate for pro-reproductive health legislation.

Call and write representatives, yes. March, yes, Protest, yes. Spread the word with social media, yes. Vote, absolutely.


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