ERIC Number: EJ949879
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Dec-14
Reference Count: N/A
OCR Pace on Probes Quickens
Maxwell, Lesli A.
Education Week, v31 n14 p1, 26 Dec 2011
In the 21 months since U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stood on an iconic bridge in Selma, Alabama, and pledged to aggressively combat discrimination in the nation's schools, federal education officials have launched dozens of new probes in school districts and states that reach into civil rights issues that previously received little, if any, scrutiny. The office for civil rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education has opened 74 "compliance reviews" in states, school districts, and higher education institutions since March 2010. That's when Mr. Duncan used the occasion of the 45th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday"--the day peaceful civil rights demonstrators were bludgeoned by Alabama state troopers on Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge--to announce his promise to reinvigorate the civil rights office. The issues targeted for investigation in the new reviews--which are initiated by the civil rights office--are more complex than in the past and less focused on procedures. For the first time in its history, the OCR is examining graduation rates at a community college. Fourteen of the OCR's current reviews are focused exclusively on gauging whether students have equal access to college-preparatory curricula, advanced courses, and other advanced-learning opportunities. Nine reviews are digging into the disproportionate use of discipline against minority students. And two other reviews are delving into possible disparities in students' access to charter schools, an issue that had not been examined by the OCR in the previous decade. The scope of those reviews--coupled with the rising number of complaints about civil rights violations coming from outside sources--has heartened some civil rights advocates who say the scrutiny is overdue. At the same time, it has made some local and state school officials wary about the federal government stepping onto their turf.
Descriptors: Civil Rights, Public Agencies, Federal Government, Compliance (Legal), Social Discrimination, Equal Education, Federal Legislation
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Education Amendments 1972; Title IX Education Amendments 1972