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US Secretary of Education Speaks on Ensuring Education Equity

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan pledged to ensure education equity in a Selma, Alabama, speech Monday. He spoke on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma to commemorate the 45th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” the day in 1965 when hundreds of civil rights protesters were brutally beaten by Alabama state and local police. In his speech, Secretary Duncan deemed education the “civil rights issue of our generation.” In a draft of the speech, Duncan said, “The truth is that, in the last decade, the Office for Civil Rights has not been as vigilant as it should have been in combating gender and racial discrimination and protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities…But that is about to change,” according to the Washington Post. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) plans to play a crucial role in the improvement of education-related practices, according to a press release. The OCR plans to conduct compliance reviews to review school district policies, ensure all students have access to learning tools including as college preparation materials and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) classes. During his speech, Secretary Duncan stated, “The struggle for equal opportunity in our nation’s schools and universities is not at an end. We will work with schools and enforce laws to ensure that all children, no matter what their race, gender, disability or native origin, have a fair chance at a good future.”

Sources:

Washington Post 3/8/10; US Department of Education Press Release 3/8/10