Dept. of Ed. Releases School Diversity Report, Announces New Grant Program

The report says progress toward increased racial and socioeconomic diversity in schools has stalled, leading to inequitable access and outcomes for students.

Dept. of Ed. Releases School Diversity Report, Announces New Grant Program

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A new report from the U.S. Department of Education says progress toward increased racial and socioeconomic diversity in schools has stalled in many communities, leading to inequitable access and outcomes for students.

The State of School Diversity report, released Friday, was created in response to a Congressional directive asking the department to examine and publicly release information on racial and economic segregation within the country’s K-12 educational systems, according to a press release. The report includes data that shows students of color disproportionately attend schools with majority students of color populations.

According to federal data, three in five Black and Latino students and two in five American Indian/Alaska Native students attend schools where at least 75% of students are students of color. Comparatively, around 50% of White students attend schools in which students of color make up less than 25% of the student population.

“Despite research suggesting the wide-ranging benefits associated with attending racially and socioeconomically integrated schools, isolation in schools continues,” says the department. “Schools that are isolated along racial or socioeconomic lines often have less access to critical resources and funding. These conditions can perpetuate gaps in opportunity that can limit the chance for underserved students to grow and excel academically.”

In response, the department has released a Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) for the new Fostering Diverse Schools Demonstration Grants Program, which will award $10 million to local and state agencies to voluntarily develop or implement plans to increase diversity in schools.

“Nearly 70 years after the Brown v. Board decision declared segregation in our public schools unconstitutional, we cannot ignore the powerful role that race, place, and income continue to play in access to educational opportunity in America,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “At a time when some are trying to turn ‘equity’ into a bad word, we must recognize that the racial and socioeconomic isolation that persists in our public schools undermines our national competitiveness by denying students of all backgrounds the rich educational experiences that result from diverse learning environments. I am proud that, as we commemorate 69 years since Brown, the Biden-Harris Administration is launching a new grant program to support innovative, voluntary local efforts aimed at building more socioeconomically diverse school communities and raising the bar for all students.”

The department says the program will provide students with access to a well-rounded education and improve school conditions for student learning by voluntarily developing or implementing comprehensive plans for increasing school socioeconomic diversity in preschool through grade 12.

The department invites applicants to submit locally tailored plans to encourage socioeconomic diversity in schools, courses, and programs. Applicants may also propose to voluntarily foster diversity more broadly by considering legally permissible strategies for promoting diversity as it relates to factors such as race, ethnicity, culture, and geography.

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