The National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity Contests the Actions of the Trump Administration in Rescinding Guidance on the Use of Race for College Admissions.
On July 3, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he is “rescinding 24 guidance documents that were unnecessary, outdated, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper.” Following this announcement, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice, in a joint action, rescinded Obama Administration guidance that promotes diversity while providing protections against racial exclusion in college admissions and K-12 education. The Obama Administration guidelines specified legal recommendations for schools to utilize race as an admissions factor to increase diversity at their institutions.
A Wall Street Journal article released on the same day states that “Trump administration officials plan to argue that the documents, published in 2011 and 2016, go beyond Supreme Court precedent on the issue and mislead schools to believe that legal forms of affirmative action are simpler to achieve than what the law allows.”
Mimi Lufkin, NAPE Chief Executive Officer issued the following statement:
“July 2nd marked the 54th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Administration’s untimely actions set a precedent that moves us as a nation toward a reversal of the spirit of that Act. The Justice Department’s attacks on Affirmative Action in colleges and universities over the past year have become a relentless battle that those of us in the educational equity community cannot afford to lose. Educators recognize that equity and diversity in learning environments vastly improves both educational achievement and the human experience for EVERY student. This recent action by Sessions and Kenneth Marcus, the newly confirmed Assistant Secretary of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, to rescind guidance documents from the previous Administration is an affront to our values of inclusion. The rescinding of this guidance threatens the civil rights protections that help ensure equal access and opportunity for every student to become high-skilled, high-wage workforce contributors and in the long-term, jeopardizes the future of our nation’s ability to remain globally competitive.”
The Administration’s decision does not change federal law under Title IV and Title VI with regard to protecting students of color in public schools and universities; and the Supreme Court has twice ruled reaffirming the importance of diversity. However, rescinding the guidance fosters an ambiguous environment of fear and concern for students, families and communities while causing confusion for school administrators and state governments by eliminating effective guidance that aids in complying with current law. To add to the confusion, the Trump administration has not offered any direction to schools on how they should move forward.
NAPE joins its education and civil rights colleagues in denouncing the Administration’s actions in rescinding of this guidance. Equity, diversity and racial inclusion are, have been and will continue to be the fiber of strength and resilience that grounds the bedrock our democracy, a foundation we must preserve.