Statement from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on the Anniversary of The Civil Rights Act of 1964
"Forty-eight years ago today, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act states, 'No person in the United States shall, on the basis of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.'
"In the education arena, Title VI applies to all elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities—public or private—that receive federal financial assistance, and its protection extends to all aspects of these institutions' programs and activities. Title VI also prohibits denial of equal access to college- and career-preparatory courses and programs and to other educational opportunities for English learners, as well as discriminatory discipline, harassment, or other barriers to equal education.
"The progress we've made toward fulfilling the promise of equal educational opportunities is marked by significant advances made by people of color across the nation. From the rising number of racial minorities with high school diplomas and bachelor's degrees to the increased attention and services designed to meet the educational needs of English learners, we have much to be proud of.
"But serious work remains to ensure equal opportunity for all students. A significant achievement gap persists between people of color and other groups. The high school graduation and bachelor's degree rates for Black, Hispanic, American Indian, and Alaska Native students and other racial and ethnic minorities are still far lower than those for whites. Too many English learners still lack the instruction and services they need to be successful. As we are learning from the Civil Rights Data Collection, students of certain racial and ethnic backgrounds are receiving harsher discipline than other students. And there are too many racially isolated schools with unequal access to critical opportunities and programs. These trends are particularly troubling in an increasingly global economy where a postsecondary degree or certificate is more necessary than ever for a stable, well-paying career.
"So while today is an occasion to celebrate the progress this nation has made under Title VI, continuing that progress will require a sustained commitment to an equal education for all students. The Department's Office for Civil Rights will continue the legacy the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by vigorously enforcing Title VI and working to help end illegal discrimination in our nation's schools so that all children can learn and succeed."