Read an advance copy of the full report.
Dear school diversity supporters,
I wanted to share with you an important development from the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva, which just issued (last Friday) its "Concluding Observations" and recommendations on U.S. compliance with the international treaty on racial discrimination, known as "CERD" (the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination). The U.S. Senate ratified this treaty in 1994 and the U.S. is required to appear before the CERD Committee periodically to submit to a full review.
The CERD Committee's report contains these important findings and recommendations on school segregation in the US:
14. While welcoming measures taken by the State party to address de facto racial segregation in education, such as the formation of the Equity and Excellence Commission in 2011, the Committee remains concerned that students from racial and ethnic minorities disproportionately continue to attend segregated schools with segregated or unequal facilities, and that even those who are enrolled in racially diverse schools are frequently assigned to "single-race" classes, denied equal access to advanced courses, and disciplined unfairly and disproportionately due to their race, including through referral to the criminal justice system. It also expresses concern at racial disparities in academic achievement, which contribute to unequal access to employment opportunities (arts.3 and 5(e)).
The Committee recommends that the State party intensify its efforts to ensure equal access to education, including by:
(a) Developing and adopting a comprehensive plan to address racial segregation in schools and neighbourhoods with concrete goals, timelines and impact assessment mechanisms;
(b) Increasing federal funding for programmes and policies that promote racially integrated learning environments for students;
(c) Effectively implementing the recommendations contained in the report of the Equity and Excellence Commission published in February 2013;
(d) Reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act with provisions that support and encourage solutions to address school segregation; and
(e) Continuing to work closely with state and local education authorities as well as civil society groups to strengthen measures to address the factors that contribute to the educational achievement gap.
An advance copy of the full report is available here.
The CERD Committee's report is an advocacy victory for the dozens of U.S. civil rights and human rights groups that attended the hearings, submitted shadow reports and testified. Several member organizations of the National Coalition on School Diversity submitted a "shadow report" to the Committee, and were also present in Geneva for the review. We were pleased to be part of this effort, and special thanks go to the U.S. Human Rights Network for their role in coordinating the many U.S. civil society participants.
We hope that all of you will use these findings, as part of your advocacy with federal, state, and local governments. These are official treaty obligations that the State Department and the relevant government agencies (including the U.S. Department of Education and state education departments) are obliged to respond to--and while they are not directly enforceable in court, we have found that they carry substantial weight in other advocacy arenas.
Poverty & Race Research Action Council