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Two Education Appointments to Worry Over (If You Care about Civil Rights in Schools)

by Martin Levine - Nonprofit Quarterly  |  04/11/2017

Concerns about the Trump administration’s commitment to protecting civil liberties rose this week. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement that he has ordered a review of the Justice Department’s efforts to combat police racism made front-page news. Less attention was paid to two appointments to two senior positions at the U.S. Department of Education that may portend a serious change in that department’s approach to combatting discrimination in public schools.

Within the Department of Education, its Office for Civil Rights was established “to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through vigorous enforcement of civil rights.” During the Obama administration, an aggressive OCR leadership saw its caseload grow to more than 16,000 complaints annually. The recent nominations of Carlos Muñiz as the Education Department’s general counsel and Candice Jackson as acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights appear to be strong signs that President Trump and Secretary DeVos want to make the department’s civil rights efforts less vigorous.

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