Terri A. Sewell

09/17/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/17/2020 14:36

Rep. Sewell Votes in Favor of Sweeping Education Legislation to Fulfill the Promise of Equity in Our Schools

Washington, DC- This week, Congresswoman Terri Sewell voted in favor of H.R. 2639, the Strength in Diversity Act of 2020 and H.R. 2574, the Equity and Inclusion Enforcement Act (EIEA). The Strength in Diversity Act passed the House of Representatives 248-167 on Tuesday and the Equity and Inclusion Enforcement Act (EIEA) passed 232-188 on Wednesday. The Strength In Diversity Act helps fulfill the promise of equity in education by offering support to districts that are developing, implementing, or expanding school diversity initiatives, whereas The Equity and Inclusion Enforcement Act takes steps to hold federally funded programs, including schools, accountable for their responsibility to provide all students with equal opportunity for a quality education.

'As the proud product of Alabama's public schools and the state's first Black Congresswoman, I am profoundly aware of the equalizing power of a good education. Segregation and discrimination in public schools robbed generations before me of academic and economic opportunity, the long-term effects of which are still evident in our most vulnerable communities,' Rep. Sewell said. 'While we have seen many strides forward in the 66 years since Brown v. Board of Education, the remnants of discrimination and inequality can still be seen today in school districts across the country, including the Black Belt. No child's education should be relegated by race or income lines in America, but it has unfortunately been the reality for generations of students. The time is now to provide the long overdue equality and justice all children deserve to grow up with. This legislation directly confronts injustice with solutions for District 7, where due to school funding policies enacted over a century ago the state is spending upwards of $5,000 less per pupil in the majority-Black Birmingham City School system than neighboring school districts with lower poverty rates. As the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to further widen achievement gaps for our most vulnerable children, I stand with our public schools who are currently forced to do more with less in passing the Strength in Diversity Act and the Equity and Inclusion Enforcement Act.'

Background Information:

The Strength in Diversity Act (H.R.2639):

  • Establishes a grant program that provides federal funding to support voluntary local efforts to increase diversity in schools.
  • Supports the development and maintenance of best practices for grantees and experts in the field of school diversity.
  • Grant funding would be available to school districts, independently or in collaboration with neighboring districts, as well as regional educational authorities and educational service agencies.

The Equity and Inclusion Enforcement Act (H.R. 2574):

  • Restores the private right of action for students and parents to bring disparate impact claims under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
  • Creates Title VI monitors to ensure that every school district and institution of higher education has at least one employee to specifically responsible for investigating any complaints of discrimination based on race, color, or national origin.
  • Creates an Assistant Secretary in the Department of Education to coordinate and promote Title VI enforcement in education.

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