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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Education

The nation cannot afford discriminatory barriers that unfairly limit or deny educational access based on factors like race, national origin, sex, or disability. Inequality in education prevents the nation from fulfilling its potential, and ensuring equal educational opportunity remains one of the civil rights movement's top priorities. 

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Executive Order Helps Historically Black Colleges and Universities Hit by Recession

March 26, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

President Obama has signed an executive order that will provide $850 million in funding over ten years to the nation's 105 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HCBUs).

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Eight Steps to Narrow the Achievement Gap in American Schools

March 24, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Michael Wotorson, executive director of the Campaign for High School Equity (CHSE), recently testified before the House Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee to encourage Congress take proactive steps to narrow the achievement gap for students of color in America.

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Obama Administration Urges Congress to Reauthorize Federal Education Law

March 11, 2010 - Posted by Beth Sadler

In testimony before the House Committee on Education and Labor, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the main education law that provides federal assistance to the nation’s public schools, is a critical piece of the Obama administration's agenda.

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Civil Rights Groups Applaud Department of Education's Renewed Commitment to Civil Rights Enforcement

March 8, 2010 - Posted by Tyler Lewis

The Department of Education this week announced plans to step up its enforcement of federal civil rights laws that require states and school districts to provide equal educational opportunity to all American children, regardless of race, gender, or disability. Listen to Leadership Conference President and CEO Wade Henderson in a discussion of the Education Department's new civil rights enforcement policy.

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Higher Achievement-Baltimore Launches First After School Program

November 6, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

This week, Higher Achievement-Baltimore held a commencement ceremony in honor of its very first class of After School Academy scholars. 

Higher Achievement is a non-profit organization that provides middle school youth with academic enrichment programs and high schoool prep.  It has been operating in the Washington, D.C., area for nearly 35 years and has helped thousands of school children improve their grades, test scores, school attendance, and confidence. The opening of programs in Baltimore is part of Higher Achievement's national expansion.

In this video Erin Hodge-Williams, executive director of Higher Achievement-Baltimore, and a few of the Baltimore scholars explain the importance of the program and how it works:

Visit the Higher Achievement-Baltimore website to learn more or to volunteer.

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Graduation Promise Act Aims to Increase High School Graduation Rates

October 1, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, approximately 1.2 million students do not graduate from high school in four years, if at all. Most of these dropouts come from minority and low-income communities, further widening the opportunity gap.

High school dropouts are more likely to experience poverty, poor health, and incarceration during their adult lives than people who graduate from high school.  The dropout crisis comes at a high economic cost for both the individual and society – resulting directly in lost wages and high government expenditures. It has been estimated that the dropouts from the class of 2008 will cost the United States almost $319 billion in lost income over their lifetime.

The Alliance suggests that the role of the federal government (PDF) should focus on developing a common set of standards for American high schools by aligning assessments and creating common definitions of proficiency and graduation rates.  The ultimate goal is to increase the number of graduates and ensure that these graduates are prepared for either college or the workplace.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D. N.M., recently introduced the Graduation Promise Act (GPA), a bill aimed at minimizing the number of high school dropouts and turning around low- performing high schools.

The GPA would provide approximately $2.5 billion of federal funding in the form of competitive grants to high schools with the highest dropout rates. About $2.44 billion of that money would be used for the High School Improvement and Dropout Reduction Fund, which would encourage schools to develop partnerships with local communities.

Another $60 million would be for districts, charter schools, non-profits, and colleges for the implementation of innovative school models that help struggling students and students who have dropped out.

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House Passes Bill to Expand Access to College

September 18, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), a bill that will make college more accessible to millions of young people. The vote was 253-171.

Student advocacy organizations like the United States Students Association and Campus Progress lauded the bill's passage, which comes at a time when colleges are becoming increasingly more unaffordable and the number of students graduating with more than $25,000 of student loan debt is multiplying.

SAFRA will improve early education through new investments in a prekindergarten grant program and funding for school facilities. The bill will also expand the federal direct lending program and keep interest rates low on need-based student loans.

The largest sum of money – $40 billion – will be used to increase the maximum annual Pell Grant, a need-based federal scholarship that helps low-income families pay for college. Another $2.55 billion will be invested in historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions to increase the number of students that graduate.  More money will also be invested in community colleges across America to improve both their courses and facilities.

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Healthier Students More Likely to Achieve

August 25, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

The Campaign for High School Equity (CHSE), a coalition of national civil rights organizations that includes the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund, says that schools could help close the achievement gap and provide incentives for staying in school by addressing many health issues that disproportionately affect minority and low-income students.

Mandatory physical education, healthy lunches, and information about eating well would contribute to students' physical health and help them excel in school. Students should also have access to properly trained, culturally sensitive mental health professionals in school. School-based health centers, of which there are approximately 1700 in the United States, also provide their students with equal access to primary health care.

More than 23 percent of African-American children between the ages of 12 and 19 were obese in 2006, which is higher than the national average of obese children (17.6 percent). And according to the National Adolescent Health Information Center, African-American and Latino children experience higher rates of depression and suicide.

Children spend seven to eight hours a day in school, more time than they spend anywhere else.  And yet only 53 percent of schools teach students about healthy eating habits and just 18 percent offer fruits and vegetables.

"In the same low-income and minority neighborhoods where most low-performing schools are concentrated, we find extreme disparities in access to quality, affordable health care," said David Goldberg, senior counsel at LCCR.  "Research and common sense make it very clear that poor nutrition and health compound the problems of lower-quality education because sick kids miss more school days, and illness and poor nutrition both sap children of the ability to focus and learn while they are in school."

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Higher Achievement Opens Education Programs in Baltimore

August 24, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis

After more than 30 years in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, Higher Achievement, an intensive academic after-school and summer program for motivated but underserved middle school children (grades 5-8) has opened two Achievement Centers in Baltimore, Maryland. Higher Achievement extends learning opportunities for middle school youth, guaranteeing motivated students equal access to success in both school and life.

The program has served more than 10,000 children since its founding in 1975 and 95 percent of the students who completed Higher Achievement's full four-year program having gone on to college. The opening of programs in Baltimore is part of Higher Achievement's national expansion.  The Achievement Centers are located in both East and West Baltimore and began their Summer Academies in June. 

"Higher Achievement has proven itself in Washington, raising students' grades and test scores, and raising their goals and expectations for academic success in high school and college," said David Goldberg, LCCR senior counsel.  "The Leadership Conference, along with the Department of Education and many others, has recognized Higher Achievement as one of the nation's best academic enrichment programs and we are excited to support the opening of the Baltimore Achievement Centers."

When school starts this fall, Higher Achievement-Baltimore will launch its After School Academy and is currently recruiting mentors to work with the 5th and 6th grade students for two hours a week during the school year.  For more information, visit www.higherachievement.org, email mentorbaltimore@higherachievement.org, or call 410-752-7753.

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Four Years after Katrina, New Orleans School Enrollment Rising

August 18, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Public and private school enrollment has risen in New Orleans as authorities continue to repair and rebuild after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city's education infrastructure four years ago.

Flood damage initially left only 20 of 120 New Orleans public schools intact after the hurricane hit in 2005, making it impossible for many students to continue their education.  Since then, the city has been rebuilding schools in hard-hit areas. According to the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, 16 new schools opened during the 2008-2009 school year, bringing the total public and private school enrollment in the city to 78 percent of pre-Katrina levels. In addition, all higher education institutions in New Orleans are now open.

The damage to the city's schools was particularly devastating to African Americans. While more than 49 percent of New Orleans school students were African American before Katrina struck, the proportion was at 39 percent as late as the spring of 2007.  African-American enrollment increased to about 43 percent last school year.  Hispanic enrollment has also increased.

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