New York, NY, December 6, 2011 …The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed the release of new Federal Guidance designed to help K-12 schools and universities promote integration and student diversity. The Guidance, jointly issued by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice following confusing and restrictive U.S. Supreme Court decisions on the issue, outlined lawful ways to promote integration and avoid racial and economic isolation in our nation's schools.
"ADL recognizes the critical value of diversity within the education system – and welcomes the new Guidance, which provides a critical framework for schools to navigate the somewhat confusing standards set by recent Supreme Court decisions on these issues," said Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director. "Through our support of Federal and state anti-discrimination laws and our leadership work in producing and promoting anti-bias educational materials and programs, the League has demonstrated a deep commitment to helping students bridge racial, ethnic, and religious differences, and to reducing the tensions that can spring from them."
In 2003, ADL filed an amicus brief on behalf of the University of Michigan Law School highlighting the academic benefits and fundamental importance of a diverse student body – a proposition upheld by the Court in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003). Likewise, in 2006, the League filed an amicus brief on behalf of Louisville and Seattle public schools in support of their voluntary desegregation programs. Although the Courts held those desegregation programs unconstitutional in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (2007), a majority of the Justices did find that the federal government has a compelling interest in promoting racial diversity and eliminating racial discrimination. Among other cases, the League had also filed a brief in the landmark desegregation case, Brown v. Board of Education (1954).
"It is disappointing to note that, 57 years after Brown v. Board of Education, far too many classrooms in far too many schools are racially and economically isolated," said Ms. Lauter. "Education Equity is one of the most important civil rights issues today and we need to find ways to directly close the untenable achievement gap. We believe this new Guidance, along with the promise of direct technical assistance to institutions, will go a long way to resolving the confusion that has frequently discouraged school districts from actively pursuing integration and desegregation initiatives since the 2007 Supreme Court desegregation decisions. We applaud the leadership of the Education Department and the Justice Department for taking another important step in promoting educational equity and inclusion."