Press Release

Dear Secretary Cardona,

First, our organizations would like to thank you for the passion and focus you have brought to your role as Secretary of Education. During your recent bus tour, it was clear that the well-being and success of educators and students was foremost in your mind. Your background was observable through the level of comfort you demonstrated interacting in each of the schools you visited.

We, the undersigned civil rights, education, and immigration organizations, strongly believe that robust monitoring and enforcement by the U.S. Department of Education (USED) is essential to advancing equity and an education system that serves all students. In order to realize USED’s mission and responsibility of promoting educational excellence and protecting equitable access to education, we believe it is important for USED to continually identify priorities and reflect on current practices. Further, federal education laws protect civil rights; therefore, it is a duty of USED to regularly monitor state actions and enforce, where necessary, the upholding of these laws so that the full rights of students are not compromised by the actions (or lack thereof) of states and districts. As such, we urge you to re-evaluate existing monitoring protocols to ensure that schools and districts are providing timely data reporting; that resources are being used equitably; and that students are receiving effective, meaningful, and engaging educational opportunities.

To achieve these goals, and ensure that all students are being supported and their rights are being met, we strongly urge the Department to take action based on the suggestions below. The areas are not an exhaustive list of programs that deserve renewed attention, but are those we are elevating for their impact on students living in poverty, students with disabilities, students learning English, students experiencing homelessness, students in the foster care system, students who are incarcerated, undocumented students, Black and Brown students, Native students, Asian students, and students who identify as LGBTQ+, all of whom have been disproportionately affected by the on-going COVID-19 pandemic and financial crisis. We recognize these are cross-cutting and intersectional issues, and that many students experience multiple vulnerabilities due to the inequities within our system (e.g., students of color are dramatically over-represented among students who experience homelessness).

We recognize that USED cannot simply return to “business as usual.” The Department must take into account the interruptions caused by the pandemic when it considers taking action to monitor and enforce existing federal laws. But our country is facing unprecedented challenges, which require significant and urgent federal action to appropriately address. These challenges are longstanding, linked deeply with inequity and systemic racism, and have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, thus requiring federal actions that can both advance systemic change and address the global pandemic.

As always, we continue to appreciate the commitment that you and the Department of Education have shown to supporting America’s students. We would value the opportunity to meet with members of your team to advance and improve the areas outlined below. Additionally, if the USED has already examined and implemented new changes to its monitoring and enforcement procedures, updates on these actions are welcomed.

Thank you for your consideration of these concerns and priorities. We would like to partner with USED in the realization of our mutual goal to provide a high-quality education for all students, especially those underserved and those most impacted by COVID-19. We would appreciate the opportunity to meet with your team to discuss how we can collaboratively advance and support these issues at your earliest convenience.

The Alliance for Excellent Education
Center for American Progress
Education Reform Now
The Education Trust
National Center for Learning Disabilities
National Urban League
SchoolHouse Connection
Teach Plus