Friday, May 1, 2015
The Office for Civil Rights has released its 2013-2014 report to Congress and the President. From my perspective, past reports have been dense and un-illuminating. This current one strikes a very different approach. First, it is very well written. Second, it is very well framed and organized. Third, and maybe most important, it is incredibly informative. Fourth, it is analytical. Fifth, it is visually appealing. Sixth, it implicitly suggests courses of action or concern. Overall, it presents as a study in the state of civil rights and equity in our nation's schools, rather than a bureaucratic account of the beans counted in the past two years.But if one were interested in counting beans, it has merit on that score as well, pointing out the eleven important policy guidance documents released and the processing of nearly three times as many complaints last year (with half as many staff) as in 1980. One bean it did not count, but which I did, was its references to and discussion of disparate impact. This document reveals an agency explicitly concerned with disparate impact enforcement, whereas as some previous reports to Congress did not even mention the word even though disparate impact regulations were in place.
In sum, this report offers an excellent starting point and foundation for anyone considering issues of civil rights and equity in public schools. For that reason, I will not even attempt to summarize it.