On 69th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, Nadler & Scott Reintroduce Bill to Achieve Equal Opportunity in Education
Washington, May 17, 2023
Today, on the 69th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerry Nadler (NY-12) and Education and Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03) reintroduced the Equity and Inclusion Enforcement Act, as part of House Democrats’ continued commitment to realizing the promise of Brown v. Board of Education, which remains unfulfilled.
Today, our public schools are as segregated as they were at any time since the late 1960s. According to a 2022 Government Accountability Office report, one in three public K-12 students attends a racially segregated high school. This racial isolation in schools has led to a significant gap in resources. In 2016, schools with predominantly children of color received $23 billion less than schools with predominantly white students, despite serving the same number of children. As a result, Black students who attend desegregated schools throughout their K-12 career are more likely to graduate from high school, attend college, attend a more selective school, and complete college.
For more than 40 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, victims of federally funded discrimination could use Title VI to challenge both discriminatory policies and practices that were created with the intent to discriminate and policies and practices that, while neutral on their face, had the effect of discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin. However, in 2001, the Supreme Court stripped private citizens, including students and parents, of their right to bring disparate impact claims against schools and other federally funded programs.
The Equity and Inclusion Enforcement Act holds federally funded programs, including schools, accountable for providing students with equal access to education by restoring the private right of action for students and parents to bring disparate impact claims under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The bill also creates Title VI monitors to ensure every school district and institution of higher education has at least one employee responsible for investigating complaints of discrimination based on race, color, or national origin.
“Our schools should be safe spaces for students to learn and prepare to make important contributions to our society, but far too often, students face discrimination in the classroom,” said House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Nadler. “This legislation restores the right of students and their families to hold schools accountable for discrimination and bias with the force of federal law. All students deserve an equal education, and Congress should speed the passage of this legislation to protect that right. I’m proud to join Rep. Scott in introducing this bill on the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, which serves as a reminder of the work that remains to provide all students with equal opportunity for a quality education.”
“History has shown that robust civil rights enforcement is critical to protecting students from discrimination and closing persistent achievement gaps,” said Ranking Member Scott. “The Equity and Inclusion Enforcement Act would restore the private right of action for students and parents to hold schools accountable for policies that have a disparate impact and deny students access to a quality education based on race, color or national origin. This bill also requires that every school has a Title VI monitor to ensure prompt investigations of complaints of discrimination. The denial of instructional hours and advance classes or the selective discipline of students of color are often the result of structural inequities in education, rather than expressed bigotry. This bill allows impacted parents and students the right to seek remedy for these policies and biases that are in fact discriminatory, regardless of intent.”