For this year of 2023, experts in the field of education warned that we will continue to see policies at the local, state and federal levels that threaten schools, cutting curricula and inclusive teaching practices both in kindergarten to grade 12 as well as in higher education institutions.
During the video conference: “Education and Civil Rights: What to Expect in the Year Ahead,” hosted by Ethnic Media Services, Morgan Craven, JD, national director of policy, advocacy, and community engagement for the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA), a A nonprofit organization focused on students having access to schools that prepare them for college, said attacks on equal opportunity in education are seen in the form of censorship in the classroom and the targeting of marginalized students.
He pointed out that such assaults have undoubtedly occurred in many forms over many generations.
“A few years ago, we began to see a coordinated effort to attack what was framed as critical race theory or CRT in K-12 schools that is fundamentally about censorship and control over our history and collective narratives of how we talk about ourselves. discrimination, prejudice and even about race itself and control over how we are able to create diverse, inclusive and equitable schools”.
He emphasized that since 2021, 42 states have proposed or passed policies that fall under the umbrella of classroom censorship.
“Those who have promoted censorship in the classroom have also politicized other issues in schools. They have targeted and excluded LGBTQ+ students through restrictions on self-expression, participation in activities, and access to physical spaces in schools.”
But they have also challenged the book and notebook ban and local districts targeting works by and about people of color and the LGBTQ+ community, and there have even been reports of local police confronting school librarians.
“They have promoted a distorted view of parental rights that does not encourage diverse, meaningful, and authentic family engagement in schools.”
And what's more, he said they have proposed funding schemes that would take public funds away from public schools, if families decide they don't like what they're being taught.
“They have threatened the academic freedom that is fundamental to our institutions of higher learning.”
He noted that just last week the lieutenant governor of Texas reiterated threats to attack college and university professors who teach CRT or other liberal philosophies.
“So the consequences of these campaigns are not just rhetorical, they are real and they are very serious.”
Genevieve “Genzie” Bonadies Torres, deputy director of Educational Opportunities for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law project , said Biden's debt relief plan was urgently needed to help more than 40 million working-class Americans, whose finances and lives were devastated by the pandemic.
“Without this relief, millions of borrowers would have been pushed into the financial abyss when loan payments restarted, and among them are millions of lenders of color who we know have been hardest hit by the pandemic.”
He recalled that the opponents launched several lawsuits challenging the legality of the plan that is now going to the Supreme Court.
The Lawyers Committee along with 21 advocacy organizations filed a friendly document in Court outlining the stakes for people of color, and women of color in particular due to the health and economic impact caused by covid-19.
“Such losses further destabilize the ability of Latino families to meet basic needs, let alone pay off crippling student debt. In addition, financial obstacles stemming from COVID-19 are amplified for African American and Latino borrowers due to pre-existing racial disparities and student debt.”
He pointed out that while a typical white family today enjoys around $184,000 in family wealth, an African American family is $23,000 and a Latino family is $38,000.
As a result, he said, African-American and Latino students are being forced to carry higher levels of student debt while facing even greater difficulty paying off that debt due to the aggravating effects of the pandemic.
“Biden's debt relief plan anticipates that approximately 50% of Latino borrowers and 25% of African-American borrowers will see their debt balances wiped out, and it is estimated that the first $10,000 of relief will move more than half million African American borrowers from a negative to a positive network.
Michaele N. Turnage Young, an attorney for the nonprofit Legal Defense Fund (LDF), which represents 25 Harvard student organizations, which have fought in court against a ban on race being considered as one of many factors for admissions, he stressed that all students deserve a fair chance at a quality education, regardless of their income, where they grew up, or their racial or ethnic background.
But unfortunately, he said that while talent is everywhere in our country, opportunity is not enough for many students of color who must deal with systemic and interpersonal racism that negatively impacts their educational opportunities.
“It is important that colleges and universities continue to be allowed to consider the full context of applicants' experiences, including how racism artificially depresses the prospects of many talented, hard-working Latino, Native, Asian-American, and African-American students. and for everyone to have a fair chance.
Threats to schools
AJ Link, Policy Analyst for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), said that they are strongly against any kind of school measures that pose a threat and safety to students.
“All students deserve safe, healthy, and inclusive school environments that support their rights, protect them from bullying and discrimination, and ensure their health and safety.”
Whitney Pesek, JD, director of federal child care policy at the National Women's Law Center, said the covid-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated deep inequities in an early care and education system that relies on paying families. unaffordable sums, educators receiving poverty wages, and too many communities across the country that are understaffed.
“In more than half of the states, caring for a baby in an early education center costs more than tuition at the state university. And one study found that more than half of families with two children spent more on childcare than rent, forcing many mothers out of the workforce.
He further mentioned that federal dollars do not come close to subsidizing all children and families who are eligible for early care and education assistance.
“Families, particularly in rural areas, struggle with a lack of care options; And research has found that more than half of the people in the United States live in an early care and education desert or in a neighborhood with an insufficient supply of licensed care.”
And he noted that child care and early education is one of the lowest paid professions in the United States with an average of $12 per hour.