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Federal Flash: Congress Works to Tackle Racial Segregation & Reduce College Remediation

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May 17, 2019 01:58 pm

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A group of Senators introduce legislation aimed at reducing the need for students to take remedial course work in college while the House education committee advances two desegregation bills on the eve of the 65th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education.  Today’s “Federal Flash” has you covered.

Senators Introduce Bill to Reduce College Remediation

On May 16, Senators Doug Jones from Alabama, Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota, and Maggie Hassan from New Hampshire introduced the Promoting Readiness in Education to Prevent Additional Remediation and Expense (PREPARE) Act to align high school with the expectations of higher education. The bill supports activities to improve high school graduation requirements, expand access to advanced coursework like dual enrollment and early college high schools, strengthen remedial education at the postsecondary level, and more.

Remedial college courses, which focus on high school-level material, cost the same as credit-bearing courses, but do not count toward a student’s degree. As a result, remediation delays time to degree, increases college costs, and rarely helps students graduate. More than one-third of all first-year college students take some type of remedial coursework. Even worse, among traditionally underserved students like African American and Hispanic students, the numbers are much higher.

In a statement supporting the bill, Alliance for Excellent Education (All4Ed) President Deb Delisle said, “Remedial courses are more likely to lead to disappointment and debt than they are to degrees. The PREPARE Act is an effective solution to ending a practice that cuts short the dreams of so many college students, especially those who are historically underserved.”

In addition to All4Ed, the PREPARE Act is endorsed by Education Reform Now Advocacy, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, National Association for College Admission Counseling, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Urban League, Third Way, and others.

House Education Committee Approves Two Bills to Reduce Racial Segregation in Schools

On the other side of the Capitol, the House Education Committee approved two bills aimed at reducing racial segregation in schools. The Strength in Diversity Act would promote community efforts to integrate schools. The second bill, the Equity and Inclusion Enforcement Act, would restore a private right of action to file disparate impact claims under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Essentially, the bill aims to provide students with remedies for civil rights violations.

Education Committee chairman Bobby Scott championed the legislation saying, “The legacy of systemic inequality and racial segregation continues to deny millions of children the opportunity to reach their full potential. Instead of confronting this injustice, the federal government has continually retreated from its role in promoting school diversity, erasing decades of progress toward educational equity. These two bills will help reverse that trend.”

Despite objections from Republican members of the Committee, the two bills were passed on a party-line vote.

Brown vs. Board of Education Anniversary and the Continuing Needs of Students

One last note. Today is the 65th anniversary of the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. To commemorate the anniversary, we at All4Ed are launching a year-long campaign to shine a light on the continuing needs of students who, more than six decades after Brown, are still not receiving the education they deserve.

Even after today’s anniversary is over, we want to remember how Brown vs. Board provided hope when hope was needed. We also want to understand how that hope has faded for so many students, especially those facing the greatest challenges.

Join us over the next year as we explore issues of equity and the unmet promise of Brown vs. Board. Visit www.all4ed.org/BrownvBoard to hear from students, learn five important things about Brown, and access classroom resources, news articles, and research reports. You can also share your thoughts with us or tweet using the #OurChallengeOurHope hashtag. Be sure to tag @All4Ed.

This blog post represents a slightly edited transcript of the May 17 episode of Federal Flash, the Alliance for Excellent Education’s  video series on important developments in education policy in Washington, DC. The video version is embedded below. For an alert when the next episode of Federal Flash is available, email at alliance@all4ed.org.

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