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Biden administration racial educational equity actions mark desegregation anniversary

By Doug Cunningham & Ehren Wynder
President Joe Biden speaks at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., on Friday, May 17, 2024. Biden delivered remarks at an NAACP event marking the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education at the Museum. Photo by Al Drago/UPI
1 of 4 | President Joe Biden speaks at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., on Friday, May 17, 2024. Biden delivered remarks at an NAACP event marking the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education at the Museum. Photo by Al Drago/UPI | License Photo

May 17 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden laid out new actions Friday to advance racial and educational equity on the 70th anniversary of the historic U.S. Supreme Court Brown vs. Board of Education decision that outlawed racially segregated schools.

These actions include $20 million in new magnet school grants in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina and Texas intended to further desegregate schools. Biden's 2025 budget request includes $139 million for magnet school programs.

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A new technical assistance center will be established to help states and school districts provide more equitable and adequate funding approaches, according to the White House.

A new report from the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights will be released providing fresh data on equal access to math and science courses.

New efforts are also being made to better preserve African American history, including preserving historic sites and protecting and increasing access to literature.

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The White House said in a statement that the release of additional funding and resources will "support school diversity and advance the goal that all students have access to a world-class education."

"The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring the educational success of every child, and to address racial segregation in our schools that leads to worse educational outcomes for children, including through investments in local efforts to increase diversity and equal opportunity," the White House statement said.

Biden on Thursday met with Cheryl Brown Henderson, daughter of Oliver Brown and Leola Brown Montgomery, the namesake plaintiffs in the case, Thursday to commemorate the anniversary.

Biden then on Friday delivered remarks at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

Biden recalled the work Black lawyer and civil rights advocate Lewis L. Redding, who represented Claymont families in the 1952 Belton vs. Gebhart case.

"One of the cases that led to the landmark [Brown vs. Board] decision was in my home state of Delaware," said Biden, who was a third grader in Claymont at the time. "They just wanted a simple proposition, they wanted their kids to be treated with dignity and respect."

Belton vs. Gepbhart was one of five cases that would be combined into Brown vs. Board. Redding's arguments in that case and others in Delaware laid the legal groundwork for Brown, Biden said.

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After Brown, the school desegregation that followed led to a 30% increase in graduation rates for Black students and a 22% increase for Latino students, according to the White House.

Biden on Friday also touted $16 billion worth of investments under his administration in historically Black colleges and universities. The investments have helped build student housing, study climate science, create health research labs and more.

The White House said that during the Biden administration more than $300 million is being invested in programs that increase school diversity.

The Department of Education under Biden also issued a new rule for Charter School applicants that the schools would not negatively affect community desegregation efforts where proposed charter schools would be located.

As it marked the 70th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education, the White House noted research showing "that racial achievement gaps are strongly associated with school segregation, in turn because schools with high concentrations of Black and Latino students receive fewer resources."

That rapid desegregation trend in the 1960s and 1970s was reversed in the past two decades when both racial and economic segregation increased, the White House said.

"For example, segregation between white and Black students is up 64% since 1988, while segregation by economic status has grown by 50% since 1991," the White House statement said.

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