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NEA applauds Obama administration for efforts to increase diversity in schools

WASHINGTON - December 06, 2011 -

The Obama administration is taking bold steps to eliminate barriers that prevent racial diversity in our public schools, colleges and universities and help ensure that students get the experiences they need to succeed in a global economy.The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice have jointly issued new guidelines that allow local school districts and college admission boards more flexibility to improve racial diversity.

“It’s clear that President Obama and his administration understand that quality and equality are essential for ensuring the success of every child in America,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.  “Diversity helps students prepare to compete and succeed in a global society.”

Education officials now have more data they can use—including information related to a student’s socioeconomic profile or any hardships the students  might  have overcome—as factors when making decisions about school assignments and college and university admissions.

The administration is hoping to reverse the impact of similar guidelines issued in 2008 under the Bush administration, which basically created confusion and tied the hands of educators looking to create more diversity and educational opportunities on their campuses.   The Bush guidelines banned the use of any factor that may have been linked to race.

The new guidelines come in two sets—one for K-12 school districts and another for colleges and universities.  They are based on the Obama administration’s interpretation of three U.S. Supreme Court decisions relative to diversity and school assignments and college and university admissions.

“The Obama administration’s efforts to increase diversity in the classroom will help students individually and the nation collectively.  We all benefit when we remove obstacles that hinder children from doing their absolute best,” Van Roekel said.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2  million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Anitrá Speight  (202) 822-7823,