Minnesota Representatives Ilhan Omar (DFL-MN-5) and Angie Craig (DFL-MN-2) helped pass a House bill to “desegregate” schools nationwide. All 105 cosponsors are Democratic.
“This legislation is an important step in making sure every student receives an excellent public education,” stated Craig in a press release.
H.R. 2639, the “Strength in Diversity Act,” was introduced by Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11). The federal grant program continues efforts adopted by Barack Obama’s administration, which were discontinued under President Trump.
Brown v. Board of Education outlawed racial segregation in public schools over 66 years ago. Proponents and supporters of the bill say that segregation is worse currently than before the historic court ruling.
“At some point, we have to reckon with what is going on in this country today and deal with the racial segregation of my children. And they are all my children,” stated Fudge prior to the House vote. “Mr. Speaker, if we fail to begin to address this issue – and this is only a beginning – then we can no longer say we agree that every child should have access to a quality education. That every child should go to a school that has the kind of equipment that they should have. That every child has internet or Broadband access. That every child has an opportunity to succeed.”
The act would administer grants to schools and/or educational administrators that “develop or implement plans to improve diversity and reduce or eliminate racial or socioeconomic isolation.” The grants occur in two parts. Planning grants for acquiring racial and socioeconomic information, and further plans for community involvement and implementation. Then, implementation grants for staffing, student transportation, lesson plans and activities.
These grants could last up to three years. Up to 5 percent of the funds would benefit research and development.
The bill doesn’t outline any specific standards for approving the plans.
Republican opponents criticized the bill on the House floor, stating that it increased federal government power at the expense of state and local governments’ ability to act.
“Republicans and Democrats agree that discrimination and state-sanctioned segregation are repugnant, illegal, and blatantly immoral. Unfortunately, committee Democrats ignored common sense approaches to this problem to impose a top-down, big government mandate that would have the federal government decide how best to address the issues of racial and socioeconomic isolation in America’s schools,” said Virginia Foxx (R-NC-5). “As we’ve seen many times before, additional government mandates and burdensome red tape are not the answer. Congress has already set up the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants – a block grant created to give schools flexibility to pursue local solutions to their community’s educational challenges. Local and state leaders and those with their feet on the ground know best how to combat these challenges, not the federal government.”
The House passed the bill 248 to 167.
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