Earlier this year, the Obama administration proposed a new, $120 million grant program, “Stronger Together,” aimed at helping increase socioeconomic diversity in schools. And Tuesday, a Senate panel dealing with K-12 spending, opted not to fund it, to the surprise of pretty much no one, given the tight fiscal constraints this year.
Does that mean that the administration has given up on the need to focus on this issue? Nope. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Transportation sent a letter to state and local leaders Wednesday, asking that they put their heads together and figure out how to knock down barriers to diversity in housing and schools.
What’s more, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., is scheduled to put forth a bill Wednesday that would seek to expand research on the educational benefits of socioeconomic diversity.
The education department has also proposed giving projects that seek to improve socioeconomic diversity a leg-up in grant competitions. It has proposed funding projects through the Investing in Innovation program that would focus on diversity. And it sought feedback on the idea of allowing states to use their School Improvement Grant dollars for diversity. (This is the very last year of SIG, which was combined with the bigger Title I program.)
U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr., who took over the helm of the department earlier this year, made socioeconomic diversity a priority during his tenure as New York state’s school chief.
But, before he stepped into the helm department had faced criticism for not focusing enough attention and resources on the issue, perhaps most prominently in this This American Life episode.