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Arne Duncan Ewa 14

Arne Duncan Ewa 14

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Published by huffpost
Arne Duncan's speech at the education writer's association conference in Nashville, TN. May 2014
Arne Duncan's speech at the education writer's association conference in Nashville, TN. May 2014

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Published by: huffpost on May 20, 2014
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06/10/2014

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Thank you, Steve, and thank you for helping lead NPR’s expanded education coverage. It’s a pleasure to be back talking ith education riters again. I kno it can be tough ith cutbacks in nes operations to keep the beat thriving. !ut you do a great service to your co""unities, to teachers, to parents, to children, and to the full#range of education stakeholders by digging deep into our nation’s educational challenges. I ant to give a special shout#out in this regard to Stephanie !anchero, $%&s previous  president. She covered 'PS hen I as in 'hicago and covered education throughout the (ba"a ad"inistration. She is a top#notch )ournalist*tough but fair*and I kno she ill carry her talent for exa"ining education policy to the +oyce oundation. Today I ant to take a fe "inutes to talk about a land"ark "o"ent that transfor"ed our nation’s schools. Sixty years ago, this last Saturday, the Supre"e 'ourt issued the
 Brown v.  Board of Education
 decision, striking don +i" 'ro school segregation. I often say that education is the civil rights issue of our generation. I ant to elaborate on hat that "eans##and ho the pursuit of e-uity runs like a ribbon through the $ducation epart"ent’s  progra"s and the initiatives launched by President (ba"a. %e have all folloed the backlash against onald Sterling’s bigoted re"arks. It’s a backlash that as entirely fitting. !ut as outraged as e are by the ords of one "an, here is the outrage over our nation/s achieve"ent gaps and the fact that "illions of our children still don/t receive e-ual educational opportunity0 In
 Brown,
 the Supre"e 'ourt struck don the 1separate but e-ual2 doctrine, affir"ing the value of integration.
 
!ut a Supre"e 'ourt opinion can’t fully "ake e-ual opportunity a reality on the ground*in schools, in classroo"s, or in hearts and "inds. So,
 Brown
is not )ust part of our history. It is part of our future. Sixty years after
 Brown
, education re"ains an urgent civil rights issue for four reasons. irst, hile
 Brown
struck don
de jure
 segregation as unconstitutional,
de facto
 school segregation has orsened in "any respects in the last to decades. Since 3443, all regions of the nation have experienced an increase in the percentage of black students ho attend highly#segregated schools, here 45 percent or "ore of students are students of color. 6ere in the South, "ore than a third of black students attend such racially#isolated schools7 in the  Northeast, "ore than 85 percent do. &s you kno fro" your on reporting, educational opportunity and diversity can vary idely a"ong urban and suburban districts ithin a short drive of each other. In Ne 9ork 'ity, even a
 
fe blocks can "ake a huge difference, as state co""issioner +ohn :ing recently pointed out. +ohn called the achieve"ent gaps beteen affluent and poor students 1a disgrace.2 I agree. That disgrace is painfully at odds ith the &"erican pro"ise that if you study and ork hard, you should have an e-ual opportunity to get a -uality education, no "atter your ;ip code or skin color. Second, education re"ains a civil rights issue because the !ron ruling sparked a seeping expansion of the entire concept of educational opportunity.
 Brown
helped propel the passage of I$&. It helped drive the adoption of Title I<. It helped lead to the creation of Title I and Pell =rants. This seeping expansion of e-ual educational opportunity to protect disadvantaged students, girls and o"en, students ith disabilities, >=!T students, and $nglish#language learners "eans that education re"ains an urgent civil rights issue in ays that ould have been uni"aginable ?5 years ago. To take one exa"ple, hen
 Brown
as handed don##in fact, as late as the 34@5s##"illions of children ith disabilities ere routinely denied access to the general classroo". Today, e also have a "uch "ore sophisticated understanding that ensuring e-ual opportunity "eans "ore than )ust striking don +i" 'ro las. That’s a third reason hy education re"ains the civil rights issue of our generation. Today, e orry both about achieve"ent gaps and opportunity gaps. !ecause e haven’t  provided access to high#-uality early learning to all fa"ilies, "illions of children enter kindergarten already behind their peers at the starting line of school. That is profoundly unfair. That’s hy President (ba"a’s groundbreaking Preschool for &ll plan is not )ust an early learning  proposal##it’s a critical civil rights initiative. &nd hen children aren’t getting the full benefit of educational technology because of their inco"e or ;ip code, it/s an in)ustice. &nd that’s hy President (ba"a’s 'onnect $d initiative to expand high#speed Internet access to 44 percent of &"erican students is also an e-ual opportunity initiative. %hen students of color and students ith disabilities are disproportionately suspended or expelled, and hen that disciplinary action ste"s fro" discri"inatory policies or practices, it’s a civil rights violation. %e’ve knon about this ine-uity for years. !ut not until Aarch, hen e released the 'ivil Rights ata 'ollection, did e find out that black
 preschool
students*essentially four#year olds *are also "uch "ore likely than hite children to be suspended. (ur expectations of hat constitutes a orld#class education have risen dra"atically since
 Brown
. %hen I as groing up in 'hicago, you could drop out of high school and still land a
 
 )ob in the steel "ill, the stockyards, or a factory. That’s no longer the case. No, you need a  postsecondary credential or degree to have a fair chance of succeeding. That’s hy, in a knoledge#based, globally co"petitive econo"y, access to ST$A courses and &P classes is also a civil rights issue. The 'R' results shoed that !lack and 6ispanic students account for close to B5 percent of high school students, but constitute )ust a -uarter of students taking &P courses and exa"s, and only C5 percent of enroll"ent in calculus classes. & ne analysis that e have run of student
access
 to advanced ST$A and &P classes shos that &"erican Indian and Native &laskan students are "uch less likely than students in other ethnic groups to attend high schools that even
offer 
 &P classes, calculus, or physics. &nd )ust ?D percent of black students*only to#thirds*attend a high school that offers calculus. !y co"parison, D3 percent of hite high school students have the option of taking calculus, as do D@ percent of &sian#&"erican students. The botto" line is that students of color, students ith disabilities, and $nglish learners don’t get the sa"e opportunity as their hite and &sian#&"erican peers to take the "ath and science courses that figure i"portantly in preparing for careers and college. This du""ying don of expectations is devastating to fa"ilies, co""unities, and ulti"ately to our nation. %e can’t continue to relegate talent and potential to the sidelines. The 'R' survey is an incredibly rich resource, a survey of every public school in the Enited States. I encourage you to dig into it aggressively to report local stories on educational e-uity. This urgent need to close opportunity gaps is hy the President/s FG55 "illion Race to the Top#(pportunity proposal is essential. It ould provide ne "oney to states and districts to use data to identify and correct these disparities. &nd it ould drive resources*such as "ore &P classes, or behavioral supports that i"prove school cli"ate*to the schools, teachers, and students that need the" the "ost. I ould add that no one has been hurt "ore in recent years by lo standards and a lack of accountability for student learning than our "ost disadvantaged students. %ithout accountability, there/s no expectation that all children ill learn. %ithout accountability, there/s no urgency. %ithout accountability, ithout "eaningful assess"ents of student learning,  parents don/t have an ob)ective ay to kno hether their children are getting the education they deserve. %ithout accountability, there/s no i"perative to face hard truths about our education syste". &nd the hard truth is that our lo#inco"e students are less prepared than "iddle#inco"e students, and our "iddle#inco"e students are less prepared than students in "any high#perfor"ing &sian and

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