Committee Democrats Honor Brown v Board Anniversary by Highlighting Administration’s Attacks on Students’ Civil Rights

In recognition of landmark decision, Democrats expand focus of hearing to include educational equity

WASHINGTON – Today, Committee Democrats honored the 64th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision by expanding the focus of a hearing on data privacy to include a wide range of threats to students’ rights and educational equity. While acknowledging the importance of protecting students’ data, Democrats highlighted the Trump administration’s actions to roll back protections for transgender students, rescind Obama-era guidance on combating sexual assault on campus, and halt investigations by the Office of Civil Rights into systemic inequality.

Catherine Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education during the Obama administration, testified at the hearing.

“Privacy is an important civil rights issue that is worthy of this Committee’s time and attention,” said Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03). “Today is an opportunity for us to discuss the many ways in which the vision of educational equity enshrined in Brown has not yet been fulfilled. After nearly a year and a half without an oversight hearing on civil rights issues in education, I urge the Committee to refocus on our collective responsibility to protect all students from all forms of discrimination.”

A recent report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office found that Black students accounted for 15 percent of public school students, but represented 39 percent of students suspended from school. Black students, boys, and students with disabilities are all disproportionately disciplined, including suffering harsher discipline than their white peers for similarly situated offenses.

 In her testimony to the Committee, Lhamon said: “I urge this Committee to recognize the crisis moment at which the nation now teeters with respect to civil rights in education and to use its oversight authority to examine urgent topics such as the U.S. Department of Education’s satisfaction of the solemn charge Congress has given it to safeguard equity for students.”

On Tuesday, May 22, Democrats continue the conversation about protecting students’ rights next Tuesday when Education Secretary Betsy DeVos appears before the Committee for the first time since taking office.

OPENING STATEMENT:  Ranking Member Bobby Scott, Subcommittee on Higher Education Workforce Development

TESTIMONY:  Catherine Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education


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