Dept. of Education Spent $20.3 Million on 10 Equity Centers to Fight the ‘Isms’

James Beattie, CNS News, November 14, 2013

The Department of Education (DOE) spent $20,396,892 over the last three years to set up and staff 10 Equity Assistance Centers (EACs) across the United States that work with school districts and state boards of education to fight “all of the –isms, like racism, ableism, orientation, etc.,” Velma Cobb, director of the EAC at Touro College in Lower Manhattan, told CNSNews.com.

The EACs cover 10 regions throughout the United States, and are funded under Title IV of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. DOE spent $6,575,460 on EACs in 2013,  $6,938,817 in 2012, and $6,882,615 in 2011.

Jenelle Leonard, director of Office of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (OESE) School Support and Rural Programs, which provides oversight for the EACs, told CNSNews.com that the facilities “offer technical assistance to school districts, state education agencies, and others who seek to resolve civil rights conflicts and promote social justice and equity.”

Cobb explained that the centers are working in the “areas of harassment, bullying, and prejudice reduction.” They also analyze discipline and suspension data to determine “whether a pattern of overrepresentation of a particular group or gender exists.”

“We train and ask questions that try to get at: whose voice is present?  Whose voice is missing?  What population(s) does a decision affect and how are they affected?  Whose interest will be served by a decision?” Cobb told CNSNews.com in an email.

“Using the vehicles of technical assistance as mentioned above, we address school culture and climate; how identity influence[s] decisions; expectations and assumptions; implicit and explicit bias; all of the –isms like racism, sexism, ableism, orientation, etc.,” she added.

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