NCSD Members & Supporters Weigh in on Strength in Diversity Act


NCSD Steering Committee Members:

Susan Eaton, Professor of Practice & Director, The Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University: “Decades of research and experience on the ground have demonstrated that school diversity carries enormous benefits over the course of students’ lives. The Strength in Diversity Act builds on this understanding to support equitable and diverse schools that reflect America at its best. The Strength in Diversity Act enables public schools to be the necessary training grounds we so desperately need in our increasingly diverse democracy.”

David Glaser, Chief Executive Officer of the Volunteer Interdistrict Choice Corporation: “Since the inception of the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation (VICC) in St. Louis over 40 years ago, VICC has demonstrated that school integration benefits all children and our entire society. Our voluntary integration program has allowed over 70,000 children to be educated in a diverse environment, improved graduation rates in our community, and has had an intergenerational impact – some students that are currently enrolled are second-generation or third-generation VICC participants. Opportunities for more funding and support and for voluntary integration programs like VICC will allow us to serve more families, and give more communities and jurisdictions another way to seek educational equity and diversity.”

Matt Gonzales, Director, Integration and Innovation Initiative (i3) at NYU Metro Center: “The destructive path of COVID-19 mirrors the destruction left by generations of segregated communities and schools. Now more than ever, we need decisive action from the federal government to desegregate schools. As we have seen in New York City and across the State, resources to support community planning for integration is crucial to creating meaningfully integrated schools. We applaud Congress members Fudge and Scott for continuing to lead the charge at the federal level to support integration. The time to act is now.”

Elaine Gross, President of ERASE Racism: “Our children need optimum educational experiences, and learning in racially isolated classrooms is antithetical to the goal. The Strength in Diversity Act is a critical tool to further voluntary integration programs, which will prepare our children for the future emotionally and academically.”  

Tanya Clay House: “We know that racial and economic diversity in our schools and classrooms is essential to ensuring all students have access to a quality educational experience. The Strength in Diversity Act puts the federal government firmly in support of communities and local governments that are prioritizing this goal.”

Monique Lin-Luse, Assistant Counsel of NAACP LDF: “School integration and related efforts to provide educational equity and limit racial isolation are an important part of addressing an urgent call for racial justice and educational equity. Providing additional support for these efforts will be even more critical as school districts face the anticipated budget cuts caused by the economic impact and learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Districts will need this support to help schools begin and maintain integration efforts that address racial disparities, racial isolation, and remove barriers to Black student achievement.”

Brenda Shum, Deputy Director & Counsel, National Center for Youth Law: “The Strength in Diversity Act is a historic step forward that will make it known that in the 21st century our country still believes in racially and socioeconomically integrated education. Now, more than ever, we can see the results of the systemic racism that undermines equity and opportunity for all of our students. We need immediate action to allow our school districts to address the underlying causes of segregation by funding and facilitating innovative and evidence-based strategies.”

Philip Tegeler, President/Executive Director of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council: “There is a growing recognition that separating schoolchildren by race and income is wrong – and parents and school district leaders all across the country are looking for new ways to bring children together. This new program would give school districts the tools and funding to develop locally-driven school integration plans and to work together across school district lines.”

Quotes from Strength in Diversity Endorsing Organizations:

David Harris, Managing Director, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law School: “Racial isolation of students is a persistent source of inequality in our nation. As an organization named after the architect of Brown v. Board of Education, we urge passage of this critical legislation. While we emphasize the need for much broader change in all the institutions of our society to dismantle the ongoing effects of American racism, we also recognize the need to increase the diversification of all our schools as an essential starting point.”

Vanita Gupta, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: “During this time of national reckoning with race and systemic racism in America, support for diversity and inclusion in our schools could not be more important. Federal support and funding from the Strength in Diversity Act for professional development, data collection, and other activities is imperative to ensure public schools and publicly funded early education programs move toward inclusion. It is long past time that our schools reflect our nation’s greatest strength – our diversity.”

“The growth of high quality magnet schools in districts across the country proves that combating racial and socioeconomic isolation is not impossible. But it does require the federal government to prioritize providing funding for innovative programs that promote diversity in school districts nationwide,” said Todd Mann, Executive Director of Magnet Schools of America (MSA). “MSA applauds the House on passage of the Strength in Diversity Act, and urges the Senate to follow suit and enact this important legislation.”

JoAnn Bartoletti, CEO, National Association of Secondary School Principals: “None of us benefits from learning in a bubble. Gathering people of all backgrounds to learn together as a community is the essence of public education, whose value has been proven repeatedly. But the battle to realize that ideal did not end in 1954. The Brown decision removed the legal obstacle to segregated schools, but it did little to counter the centuries-old caste divisions our nation drew along racial and socioeconomic lines. Any school leader can tell you how fiercely those divisions persist, and how real the effects are, even within districts: One school’s fundraiser can generate hundreds of dollars, while another school raises hundreds of thousands. More experienced educators often migrate to whiter, more affluent schools. Those socioeconomic lines won’t move unless we work actively and intentionally to move them. Rep. Fudge and Sen. Murphy recognize that, and the nation’s principals are grateful for their codifying that intention in the Strength in Diversity Act.”

“Every day, the 3 million members of the National Education Association try to stand in the ever-widening gaps that are adversely compounding and impacting the learning of far too many of our students. We do this because we know, all too well, about the inequities that have been built into interconnected social systems, and we believe that all students — regardless of their ethnicity or income — deserve an inspiring education that prepares them for success,” said NEA President Becky Pringle. “The Strength in Diversity Act recognizes that socioeconomic and racial segregation deny many of our Black, brown and indigenous students access to the rich educational opportunities that will help them achieve their goals. Through supporting voluntary efforts to increase diversity, this legislation will help bring about fairness and equity for students in every community.”

Randi Weingarten, AFT President: “As our country reckons with our history of racism and the ongoing institutional injustices directed at communities of color, our public schools have a critical role to play in modeling diversity, teaching tolerance, and preparing our next generation to enter a world where they feel seen and heard. We have a great deal of work to do in making our public schools more equitable and more diverse—a dream we still struggle to realize decades after Brown v. Board of Education—as schools are still segregated along racial and socioeconomic lines. Thanks to Reps. Marcia Fudge and Bobby Scott, we can begin to reconsider how to make that dream a reality, by changing school assignment rules and funding other avenues to help increase diversity in public schools.”

“Sixty-six years following Brown v. Board of Education, we find that many of our nation’s public schools are more racially segregated today than the late 1960s,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The Strength in Diversity Act could increase diversity in our schools and provide equal educational opportunities to all, regardless of race or socioeconomic standing. Rep. Fudge’s legislation provides the funding necessary to develop strategies aimed at increasing diversity and strengthening school systems. We are in a defining moment in our country’s history in which the federal government must take bold action to promote core principles of diversity and inclusion.”

Nyah Berg, Integrated Schools Project Director, New York Appleseed: “In New York City we have seen that when local leadership chooses equity, inclusivity and integration as goals and provides resources to support community engagement toward those goals, successful diversity plans can emerge. The Strength and Diversity Act provides funding and guidance on supports and accountability structures necessary for communities nationwide to construct and implement plans that aim to repair the destructive consequences of decades of segregation.”

Eric Rodriguez, Senior Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at UnidosUS: “UnidosUS believes that every student, no matter their unique background or circumstance, should have access to a high-quality education that sets them on a path to college or career success. This means closing race-ethnic academic opportunity gaps that may grow wider if we do nothing to respond in the current crises. One important step we can take is enacting the Strength in Diversity Act. This legislation promotes diversity among the school leaders and professionals that educate our children and brings diverse life experiences to the classroom in a way that enhances learning for all American children.”

Also see quotes from Voluntary Integration Choice Corporation and Poverty & Race Research Action Council (above).

NCSD Members:

Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA):

  • “It is critical that lawmakers support the Strength in Diversity Act, which will help school districts across the country identify and implement research-based solutions to racial and socioeconomic segregation,” said Morgan Craven, National Director of Policy, Advocacy, and Community Engagement at IDRA. “These are problems that have plagued this country for too long and it is time for us to take meaningful steps to address them.”
  • “We must take steps now to address the deeply-entrenched issues of racial and socioeconomic segregation in our communities and schools,” said Morgan Craven, National Director of Policy, Advocacy, and Community Engagement at IDRA. “The Strength in Diversity Act will allow school districts to research, develop, and implement plans to build stronger, more diverse schools that serve all students equitably.”
  • “We know there are research-based approaches that work to address racial and socioeconomic segregation in our schools,” said Morgan Craven, National Director of Policy, Advocacy, and Community Engagement at IDRA. “The Strength in Diversity Act will provide school districts with the resources and supports to identify those approaches, engage with their communities, and implement plans with fidelity to ensure stronger, more diverse schools for all students.”

Milly Arbaje-Thomas, President & CEO, Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity, Inc. (METCO): “The Strength in Diversity Act would be a historic step toward remedying one of the tragic flaws in American public education: racial segregation. METCO has been demonstrating since 1966 that communities want to learn together, and that amazing things can happen when they do. Voluntary inter-district programs like ours should be in place all over the country, breaking down the barriers placed by previous generations, and raising a generation who will experience integration from their first day of kindergarten. These policies will make this vision a reality.”

Kris Nordstrom, Senior Policy Analyst (Education & Law Project), North Carolina Justice Center: “In North Carolina, we’ve been in a decades-long fight to provide all students in the state with the education they are owed under our state constitution. The grants provided under the Strength in Diversity Act will be extremely helpful in meeting these goals, empowering local districts to implement the types of school integration plans that are vital to improving opportunities for all students.”

Arnold Fege, President, Public Advocacy for Kids: “Public Advocacy for Kids is proud to support Senator Murphy and Representative Fudge’s Strength in Diversity Act. It is way overdue for the federal government to join many states and local communities in planning, designing and implementing policies that tackle programs to reduce racial and economic segregation in our public schools. Research is clear that diversity and desegregation of schools have positive benefits for students of all races. The Strength in Diversity Act, besides providing incentives, challenges all of us to pursue the promise of a public education system that is no longer ‘inherently unequal.'”

Christie Huck, Executive Director, City Garden Montessori School: “A key part of addressing the racism and inequity that plague our country is to face the fact that our nation’s schools and school districts remain largely segregated. We must reflect deeply on why this is, and what the implications are. Educating our children in diverse schools that actively work to acknowledge, interrupt and dismantle racism are key to building a truly equitable democratic society. Strength in Diversity would provide vital resources to communities seeking to advance these goals.”

Research Advisory Panel Members:

Casey Cobb, Neag Professor of Educational Policy, University of Connecticut: “Hyper segregation in our cities is a root cause of not only grave differences in academic achievement among students of color and in poverty, but of the broader social and economic disparities of our citizenry. The Strength in Diversity Act of 2019 (H.R. 2639) offers targeted actions and resources to disrupt intense racial and socioeconomic school segregation and bring students together from all backgrounds. Voluntary school diversity programs won’t work with adequate support. Please support this Act.”

Richard Kahlenberg, Senior Fellow, The Century Foundation: “At an important moment of racial reckoning for the nation, The Strength in Diversity Act takes meaningful strides toward ensuring our nation’s unrealized promise of equal educational opportunity. Today’s historic vote marks the first time in decades that the House of Representatives has debated legislation to directly address the issue of school segregation, which is at the heart of so much of our nation’s educational inequality The bill provides important support to communities that are proactively and voluntarily bringing together kids of different backgrounds.”

Professor Vanessa Siddle Walker, Emory University: “As we strive to reach agreement on a collective agenda for real integration, rooted in a shared knowledge of our history, the Strength in Diversity Act can help us move forward in a concrete way. We can have no first-class American citizenship supporting second-class educational opportunities. The time is now to act for our children and for the future of democracy.”

Other Supporters:

Valerie Sterne, Founding Member of Integrated Schools Austin and Ph.D. student in Ed Policy at University of Texas: “Austin ISD schools are deeply segregated. Black and Hispanic elementary students attend schools that are on average 50 percentage points higher in school poverty than white elementary students in the same district, the worst gaps in the state. The district applied for federal grants to help diversify their campuses before the program was scrapped in 2017. The Strength in Diversity bill from the U.S. House would support districts that want to increase racial and economic integration. Truly Integrated schools, with students from a wide variety of racial, cultural, and economic backgrounds are good for everyone. Overall achievement is higher and achievement gaps are smaller. Students who have relationships with kids who are different than them have better interpersonal skills and less implicit bias.”