A consortium of education, community, legal, and military leaders, chaired by former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley, has released a report, With All Deliberate Speed, outlining a series of recommendations to address the issue of achievement, citizenship, and diversity in American education.

In addition to Riley, presenting the document were the following: LaMar Miller, executive director emeritus, Metropolitan Center for Urban Education, New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education; Amy Stuart Wells, professor, Teachers College, Columbia University; Charles F. Bolden, former NASA astronaut and Brigadier General, USMC (retired); and Charlotte K. Frank, senior vice president, McGraw-Hill Education.

“This paper was written for the express purpose of beginning a new conversation about diversity in our nation’s public schools,” said Riley. “The fact that so many public schools in the United States are segregated by race, ethnicity, and income stands in sharp contrast to the integrated American workplace, our armed forces, and the many civic and religious communities that make up our society. This is a vexing problem that we cannot ignore.”

Riley noted that Americans also have a unique opportunity to implement changes in areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina. In a smaller paper delivered to key lawmakers dealing with federal education legislation and emergency relief funding for Katrina victims, the links between the issues of poverty, race, and education were discussed. “While we are saddened that many schools in Louisiana and Mississippi were devastated by Hurricane Katrina, the rebuilding process provides us with a fresh start to incorporate the principles of Brown v. Board of Education on the ground floor,” Riley said.

The consortium includes a group of education leaders from across the country, including U.S. District Judge Robert L. Carter, who is considered the primary architect of the Brown decisions. He was an attorney with the NAACP who played a leading role in litigating the major cases of the civil rights era from 1944 to 1968. Since 1972, Carter has served as a federal district judge for the Southern District of New York.

The report points out that the United States now has an unequal, two-tiered K-12 system, increasingly segregated by race and income. Statistics from the Harvard Civil Rights Project show that more than 70 percent of American black students attend predominantly minority schools, while the average white student attends a school that is almost 80 percent white.

With All Deliberate Speed suggests that any effort to reach across racial boundaries in school and out of school must be based on a school-and-community partnership.

With All Deliberate Speed refers to specific verbiage in the Brown decision, which came in two parts. The original landmark decision in 1954 determined that segregation was unconstitutional. Brown II addressed the issue of how to end segregation. While the NAACP argued for schools to be desegregated “forthwith,” which implies a quick timetable, the justices chose the more vague expression of “with all deliberate speed.” The ambiguity of “with all deliberate speed” created an undefined timeline for implementation and placed the burden of integration on the schools.

“Today, we need to recognize that diversity in our schools is about preserving the strength of our democracy, sustaining America’s prosperity in a global economy, and protecting our vital security and other national interests. Giving our children the opportunity to learn together, regardless of racial, ethnic, or social background, helps us become a more unified and democratic society,” Riley said.

The document also outlines steps for providing diversity in public schools without sacrificing high-quality teaching and learning opportunities for all children. Diversity is a parallel concern to raising academic achievement. The recommendations include policy changes, as well as the use of schools as centers of the community, early college high schools, and public school choice.

To access the complete document, With All Deliberate Speed, go to: http://education.nyu.edu/metrocenter/

The initial impetus for With All Deliberate Speed began in May 2004 at a national conference that marked the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation at New York University. Representatives from NYU’s Metropolitan Center for Urban Education and several leaders who participated in this event felt it was important to look at the impact of desegregation on education and society. McGraw-Hill Education was involved from the beginning, as Glencoe/McGraw-Hill and Macmillan/McGraw-Hill prepared the conference materials and Frank gave closing remarks.

After the conference, Miller, Frank, and Wells, along with Fred Frelow, director, Early College Initiative, The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and Heather Shaw, director, Corporate Responsibility, Time Warner Inc., spearheaded the effort to gather leaders several times during the past year to develop the document released today. Chad Wick, president and CEO, KnowledgeWorks Foundation, also was instrumental in assembling the consortium and developing the document.

Other members of the consortium are: Elise Boddie, director, education, and Victor Bolden, general counsel, and Theodore Shaw, director, general counsel, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund; Amanda Broun, senior vice president, Public Education Network; Nancy Cantor, chancellor, Syracuse University; Julius Chambers, attorney, Ferguson, Stein, Chambers, Adkins, Gresham & Sumter; Lee Daniels, vice president, National Urban League; Dr. Harold P. Freeman, president, Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care; La Ruth Gray, director, external relations, Metropolitan Center for Urban Education, New York University; the Honorable Jim Hunt, former governor of North Carolina; Charles Kamasaki, senior vice president, and Raul Gonzalez, legislative director, National Council of LaRaza; Sandrine Lavallee, assistant professor, Graduate School of Education, Touro College; Kent McGuire, dean, College of Education, Temple University; Pedro Noguera, executive director, Benjamin Jinks, Metropolitan Center for Urban Education, New York University; Jeannie Oakes, Presidential Professor, UCLA, Director, UCLA’s IDEA & UC ACCORD; Terry Peterson, director, Afterschool and Community Learning National Network; Michael Stewart, director, Research and Analytics, Standard & Poor’s School Evaluation Services, and Lisa M. Quiroz, vice president, Corporate Responsibility, Time Warner Inc.

The consortium plans to disseminate the document widely among educational policy organizations, teacher organizations, and the media in hopes of sparking additional conversation nationally.

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