New York, NY, March 7, 2012 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed the launch of a vastly expanded U.S. Department of Education research tool that will help collect and publish a range of civil rights indicators from school districts, including discipline, achievement, funding, and bullying and harassment policies. The League said the DOE's newly launched Civil Rights Data Collection web site will provide "a critical new measure of accountability" for schools and school districts.
Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director, issued the following statement:
Equality of opportunity for all depends on equal educational opportunity for all. We applaud the Department of Education's commitment to collect and publish this data on a range of civil rights indicators. The availability of this data will provide all those concerned about the state of education in this country with a critical new measure of accountability for individual schools and school districts.
Collecting and publishing this data is an important first step in addressing district-wide disparities in educational opportunities, including those which may merit investigation and enforcement actions by the Department of Education. The data will also provide an opportunity to identify underachieving schools and districts where we and other civil rights organizations can focus our efforts to address ethnic and racial disparities and the lack of a level playing field for American students.
One particularly disturbing finding in this newly released data is the unacceptably disproportionate rates of suspension, expulsion, and punishment for Black, Hispanic and disabled students. The Department of Education's findings must spark targeted action to address these disparities.
ADL has been a leader in the fight against prejudice, bigotry and discrimination in America's public schools. The League created its Task Force on Education Equity to help address long-term and persistent racial and ethnic disparities in a range of key education indicators, including the rates of dropout, discipline, funding, graduation rates, access to information technology, and quality teachers in our nation's public schools. The Task Force is led by Elizabeth Price, an ADL National Commissioner from Atlanta.