Anniversary of Title VI Marks Progress and Reminds us that Every Child has the Right to an Education

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Anniversary of Title VI Marks Progress and Reminds us that Every Child has the Right to an Education

July 1, 2009

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has issued a statement recognizing that Thursday, July 2, 2009, is the 45th anniversary of the enactment of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in public schools. But Duncan noted that the nation's public schools still have a tremendous amount of work to do to ensure students of color and those growing up in poverty have equal access to schools that offer them the quality educational opportunities that they need and deserve.

“Title VI was a great victory in the pursuit of equality in education,” Duncan said. “But many schools are still struggling to serve students of color and students growing up in poverty. Many communities are underserved with respect to having access to college-level coursework in high school, math and science, talented and gifted programs, after school programs, and much more.

“Education is the civil rights issue of our generation,” Duncan added. “If we are to emerge from this global recession and ensure the future prosperity of our nation, every school must provide every child with a quality education that offers the path out of poverty and toward equal opportunity.”

Since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964, minorities have made significant progress in their educational attainment. But minorities still trail whites in college completion and other education indicators.

“Forty-five years after Title VI, the promise of equal education for all has yet to become reality for all,” Duncan said. “The Obama administration has dedicated unprecedented resources to education through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It is time for unprecedented reforms that offer children of all races, nationalities, and ethnicities the education they need and deserve.”

Attached is a fact sheet on the state of education for minority children.



What is it?

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI) was landmark legislation, passed into law on July 2, 1964, to prohibit discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance – including racial harassment, school segregation, and denial of language services to national-origin-minority students who are limited in their English.

What has changed?

The U.S. Department of Education’s vigorous enforcement of the Title VI law and the efforts of our nation’s education institutions to eliminate discrimination based on race, color, or national origin, have removed many obstacles and increased access to educational opportunities for minority students.

How has access to education improved?

In 1964, when the Act was signed, only 26% of African Americans age 25 and over earned at least a high school diploma. By 2007, that percentage had grown to 82%.*

In 1964, only 4% of African Americans age 25 and over earned at least a bachelor’s degree. As of 2007, 19% of African Americans, and 13% of Hispanics, age 25 and over, had at least a bachelor’s degree. *

In 1976, African American, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native students made up 17% of college undergraduates. In 2004, these students comprised 32% of college undergraduates. **

There have been similar increases in graduate school enrollment for minority students. In 1976, minority students made up 11% of the graduate school population, and in 2004, minority students represented 25% of the graduate school population. **

Since 1995, the number of high school Advanced Placement exams taken by African American students has tripled, and the number of AP exams taken by Latino students has quadrupled.***

What work still needs to be accomplished?

Although college enrollment rates for African American and Hispanic students have increased since 1976, significant disparities exist between underrepresented minorities and their white and Asian peers in terms of college enrollment:

  • In 2004, 60.3% of Asian/Pacific Islander 18- to 24-year-olds and 41.7% of white Americans were enrolled in college, compared to 31.8% of African Americans, 24.7% of Hispanics, and 24.4% of American Indian/Alaska Natives in the same age group. **

  • Similar disparities exist for college completion. In 2003-2004, African Americans represented 12% of the population, but earned only 9.4% of bachelor’s degrees and 5.9% of doctorate degrees. During the same school year, Hispanics represented 14% of the population, but earned only 6.8% of bachelor’s degrees and 3.4% of doctorate degrees. **

Significant disparities also exist in elementary and secondary schools throughout the country:

  • According to the U.S. Department of Education’s 2006 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), African American students represented 13.4% of graduating seniors in U.S. public schools, and represented only 7.9% of students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses. ****

  • According to the 2006 CRDC, African American students represented 17.13% of enrolled students, but comprised 35.67% of students receiving corporal punishment, 37.40% of students who received out of school suspensions, 37.86% of students who were expelled, and only 9.15% of students in Gifted and Talented programs.*** *

  • According to the 2006 CRDC, Hispanic students represented 20.41% of enrolled students but comprised only 13.72% of students receiving a high school diploma, 12.79% of students in Gifted and Talented programs, 11.53% of students enrolled in an AP Math course, and 12.04% of students enrolled in an AP Science course.*** *

* United States Census Bureau
** National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
*** The College Board
*** *U.S. Department of Education's most recent Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC):