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Higgins announces passage of Strength in Diversity Act

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Wed, Sep 16th 2020 11:30 am

Legislation supports continued efforts to desegregate schools

Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, announced passage of H.R. 2639, the Strength in Diversity Act, which provides grants to communities for the purpose of improving the diversity of public schools.

Upon passage of the bill, Higgins said, “America is a nation founded on diversity, and our schools should reflect that. This bill pushes to ensure that everyone, regardless of race, nationality or ethnicity, has an equal chance at a successful, quality education.”

Grants would be available to school districts independently or in collaboration with neighboring districts as well as regional educational agencies. A recipient of a Strength in Diversity Act grant may use the grant for recruiting additional teachers and staff, investing in specialized academic programs, and developing innovative and equitable school assignment plans. It also allows the Education Department to carry out national activities.

The 1954 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education found racial segregation of students in public schools to be unconstitutional. The court concluded, “In the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” Yet, more progress toward equality is necessary. A 2016 Government Accountability Office report found, “More than 60 years after the Brown decision, our work shows that disparities in education persist and are particularly acute among schools with the highest concentrations of minority and poor students. Further, Black and Hispanic students are increasingly attending high-poverty schools where they face multiple disparities, including less access to academic offerings.”

The bill is supported by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the National Education Association (NEA), and a number of other organizations.

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