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Sec’y of Ed. Issues Wake Up Call On Educational Inequities

WASHINGTON Minority students across America face harsher discipline, have less access to rigorous high school curricula, and are more often taught by lower-paid and less experienced teachers, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). In an event at Howard University attended by civil rights and education reform groups on Tuesday (March 6), federal education officials released new data from a national survey of more than 72,000 schools serving 85 percent of the nation’s students. The self-reported data, Part II of the 2009-10 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), covers a range of issues including college and career readiness, discipline, school finance, and student retention. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the CRDC findings are a wake-up call to educators at every level and issued a broad challenge to work together to address educational inequities. “The power of the data is not only in the numbers themselves, but in the impact it can have when married with the courage and the will to change. The undeniable truth is that the everyday educational experience for many students of color violates the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise. It is our collective duty to change that,” Duncan said. Among the key findings are: • African-American students, particularly males, are far more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their peers. Black students make up 18 percent of the students in the CRDC sample, but 35 percent of the students suspended once, and 39 percent of the students expelled. • Students learning English (ELL) were 6 percent of the CRDC high school enrollment, but made up 12 percent of students retained. • Only 29 percent of high-minority high schools offered Calculus, compared to 55 percent of schools with the lowest black and Hispanic enrollment. • Teachers in high-minority schools were paid $2,251 less per year than their colleagues in teaching in low-minority schools in the same district. Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali said that for the first time, this survey includes detailed discipline data, including in-school suspensions, referrals to law enforcement, and school-related arrests. “These new data categories are a powerful tool to aid schools and districts in crafting policy, and can unleash the power of research to advance reform in schools,” Ali said. Part II of the CRDC also provides a clear, comparative picture of college and career readiness, school finance, teacher absenteeism, student harassment and bullying, student restraint and seclusion, and grade-level student retention. The data from both phases of the 2009-10 CRDC are available on OCR’s website for the CRDC, http://ocrdata.ed.gov. The website, which has been improved for better usability, also contains CRDC data from 2000-2006. For further information about OCR, please visit, www.ed.gov/ocr. For further information on the 2009-10 CRDC, visit http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/whatsnew.html.

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