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Committee Democrats Condemn Education Department Proposal to Eliminate Collection of Critical Civil Rights Data | House Committee on Education and Labor

11.19.19

“By amending the collection of this data to remove key elements…the Department will significantly weaken a key source of information used to identify civil rights violations and address inequities in our educational system.”’

WASHINGTON – Committee Democrats sent a letter to Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos condemning the Department’s proposed changes to the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), which would eliminate collection of data that are critical in addressing the inequities in America’s education system. The proposal to limit collection of data by race, gender, and disability status would also hinder the ability of the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to enforce civil rights laws, leaving children of color and children with disabilities more vulnerable to discrimination.

In the letter, Members wrote that the Department’s proposal will mask educational inequities and undermine federal efforts to address differences in areas, including early childhood, school discipline, teacher quality, and school funding.  

By amending the collection of this data to remove key elements as proposed, the Department will significantly weaken a key source of information used to identify civil rights violations and address inequities in our educational system,” the Members wrote. This proposal will undermine the bipartisan will of Congress to report vital information to parents and to the public.” 

The Members also note that by proposing to eliminate CRDC data elements, the Department is directly violating congressional intent under Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which specifically requires states and schools to provide parents and the public with information about educational enrollment and success.

“In drafting ESSA, Congress purposefully used CRDC data elements to avoid duplication of data requirements for states and districts, requiring that report cards contain CRDC data elements to ensure the increased transparency for all educational stakeholders, including parents and families.  The unavailability of such data through the CRDC, a vital oversight mechanism, will impede implementation of ESSA, deny parents access to critical information about their children’s schools,” Committee Democrats wrote.

The proposed changes to data collection come amid widespread concerns that the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is rushing to close discrimination cases without appropriate consideration and opening fewer investigations into systemic discrimination. 

Read the full text of the letter to Secretary DeVos here.

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