Welcome to the PRRAC Update! Every other Thursday, PRRAC sends out a brief digest of news, recent publications, and other points of interest related to our work in housing, education, and health. We welcome feedback and encourage you to forward to others. To join the PRRAC email list, click here.
HUD's disparate impact regulations: PRRAC, the National Fair Housing Alliance, and dozens of other civil rights, housing and legal services organizations recently submitted comment letters in support of HUD's proposed regulation setting out uniform standards for the application of the "disparate effects" standard in fair housing complaints filed with HUD. This standard, which has been followed by HUD and the courts for decades, but which until this year did not have a regulation to guide procedure across HUD offices, permits members of protected groups in appropriate cases to challenge a facially neutral policy based on its discriminatory impact, without requiring proof of discriminatory intent. The proposed regulation has taken on particular significance because of the pending case of Magner v. Gallagher in the U.S. Supreme Court, an appeal that challenges the underlying statutory basis of the Fair Housing Act's disparate effects test. We will report in detail on the Magner case in a future PRRAC update, after all the briefs have been filed.
PRRAC Joins with Civil Rights and Educational Advocacy Community to Oppose Kline ESEA Draft: As reported in the last PRRAC Update, Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) introduced the Student Success Act in an attempt to move ESEA reauthorization in the House. The draft bill is one of several the House Education Committee chair has introduced this session in a piecemeal approach to revamping the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The draft abandons the current accountability structure but does not offer an alternative to ensure the education of low-income students, students of color, students with disabilities, and English language learners is not overlooked by states. The draft also suggests changes to the funding structure of ESEA that would provide states and districts with funding but with little accountability for how those funds are spent. PRRAC joined 37 other groups in a letter opposing the bill. You can read the letter here.
Other news and resources
State Department addresses school segregation, other racial justice issues, in report to U.N. Human Rights Committee: The United States' "Fourth Periodic Report" to the U.N. Human Rights Committee under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, submitted on December 30, included a response to concerns in the U.N Committee's most recent report over "de facto racial segregation in public schools, reportedly caused by discrepancies between the racial and ethnic composition of large urban districts and their surrounding suburbs, and the manner in which school districts are created, funded and regulated." As part of its defense of U.S. policy, the State Department cited the Department of Education's Magnet Schools Assistance Program, the USDOE's Office of Civil Rights' Title VI enforcement efforts, and technical assistance available under the recent USDOE-Department of Justice joint guidance on voluntary school integration. The report also responded to U.N. concerns over U.S. policy on issues of racial profiling, homelessness, racial disparities in criminal justice, and a number of important civil liberties issues. To see a copy of the entire U.S. report, click here.
The new "Voices of Poverty" project, developed by freelance journalist Sasha Abramsky and sponsored by the Open Society Foundations, "seeks to tell the stories of impoverished men, women, and children, in a country seemingly unable to come to grips with their collective tragedy." Visit www.thevoicesofpoverty.org.
Annual State of the Indian Nations Address: Delivered this morning by the President of the National Congress of American Indians, Jefferson Keel (Chickasaw Nation), 10:30 am in Washington, DC. Watch live or taped at www.ncai.org.
Poverty & Race Research Action Council