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August 18, 2014

"Falling Further Behind: Combating Racial Discrimination in America" Submitted in July

In July 2014, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, along with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the NAACP, submitted a "shadow" report, "Falling Further Behind: Combating Racial Discrimination in America," to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This committee monitors the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, or CERD.

CERD is an international human rights treaty that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, descent or national or ethnic origin. The United States ratified CERD in 1994 and submitted its latest report to the United Nations in June of last year. Next month, the CERD committee in Geneva will review the U.S. government's report and recent efforts to implement the treaty.

The Leadership Conference's report covers a number of critical issues, including education, criminal justice, employment, housing, immigration, voting rights, and discrimination against women of color, and offers recommendations to enhance U.S. implementation of its obligations under the treaty.

"America's track record of creating opportunities for people of color and ending racial discrimination is decidedly mixed," said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference, in the report's forward. "On nearly every indicator that we use in the United States to measure progress, people of color are falling further behind."

On education, the report recommends that:

  • the Obama administration immediately begin implementing recommendations contained in the report of the federal Equity and Excellence Commission and require, where it can, all states to identify and remedy resource disparities that deny poor and minority students, as well as those with disabilities or who are English language learners, equal educational opportunities;
  • the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education develop a comprehensive plan to address concentrated poverty and racial isolation in schools and neighborhoods. The plan should include enforcement of federal civil rights laws and programs and policies shown to improve schools; efforts to encourage racial and socioeconomic integration; economic and infrastructure development (including affordable housing and transportation); coordination of health and social services; and effective re-entry programs.
  • the federal Education Department enforce federal requirements in both Title VI of the Civil Rights Act (and related requirements of Title IX and of Section 504 and ADA) and Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which require: a) equitable assignment of teachers to poor and minority students, b) equal access to core curriculum and college-preparatory classes, c) services and appropriate instruction for English Language Learners, and d) fair and effective disciplinary policies and practices.

The report is being released 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and 20 years after U.S. ratification of CERD. The Leadership Conference hopes that "this report will be useful to the international community in assessing U.S. compliance with CERD and that it serves as a public education tool to aid in protecting and promoting racial justice throughout the United States."

Education Justice Press Contact:
Molly A. Hunter, Esq.
Director, Education Justice
email: mhunter@edlawcenter.org
voice: 973 624-1815 x19

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