Washington, D.C. – The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) calls on Congress to reject the President’s proposed fiscal year 2018 budget for the Education Department. The budget drastically cuts funding intended to support the academic achievement of low-income public school students, many of whom are students of color. Among other initiatives, the budget eliminates teacher professional development, after-school programs, and supports that improve school climates and provide a well-rounded education, all resources that would improve educational opportunities for students. 

“Budgets reflect priorities, and it is all too clear that for this administration, quality public education – the bedrock of our democracy – is anything but a priority,” said LDF Deputy Director of Policy Monique Dixon. “The President’s proposal is a blatant disinvestment in America’s public schools, all in the name of ‘school choice,’ which has long been code for racial segregation in local school systems. We urge Members of Congress to approve a budget that offers adequate funding for programs that will help students, particularly low – income students of color – to succeed in supportive school environments that will prepare them for college and careers.”

During her testimony before a House Appropriations sucommittee today, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos defended the budget, once again demonstrating her indifference to protecting students’ civil rights and to ensuring the success of low-income public school students. The cuts called for in the President’s budget would presumably be used to support increased investments in private school vouchers and charter school expansion, also outlined in the budget proposal. But DeVos made no promises that her department would ensure that such schools uphold the civil rights of all students. When asked if she would allow private schools that accept vouchers to discriminate against students, DeVos did not provide a direct answer.

“A central role of the U.S. Department of Education is to ensure that local educational agencies that receive federal funds do not discriminate based on race, nationality, color, sex, disability, and religion,” said LDF Director of Policy Todd Cox. “We respectfully urge Congress to continue to use its budgetary and oversight authority to ensure that the Education Department protects the civil rights of all students. An important step in that direction would be to maintain or expand funding for the Office for Civil Rights, which collects educational data from school districts, investigates complaints of discrimination, and releases guidance to local educational agencies on how to comply with civil rights laws.”

As the organization that litigated Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, KS before the Supreme Court in 1954, LDF is steadfastly committed to ensuring equal access to public education for all children.

About The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) 

Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.