The U.S. Education Department will collect massive amounts of school civil rights data for two consecutive years, rather than in alternate years, due to expressed concerns the Chinese coronavirus pandemic has negatively affected the Biden administration’s plan to make equity a central focus of public education.
“This data is enormously important for understanding where we are on advancing equity at a time when the nation’s educational landscape has been affected by COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus],” acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Suzanne Goldberg said, according to a report Friday at Education Week, which referred to the consecutive year collection of the enormous amounts of data as “unprecedented.”
In June the Biden education department outlined how it will spend the “American Rescue Plan’s historic funding for schools” in order to advance “equity” as a central focus of education in the nation’s public schools.
The department said its plan is part of its “ongoing efforts to implement President Biden’s Day One Executive Order to advance racial equity and support for underserved communities across the federal government and build our schools and communities back better than before the pandemic.”
The education department informed school superintendents civil rights data collection will occur during the 2021-2022 academic year. The data collection originally scheduled for 2019-2020 was delayed a year due to the school closures that took place when the pandemic began.
The civil rights data collection includes information regarding student enrollment and educational programs and services. Most of that data is divided according to “race/ethnicity, sex, limited English proficiency, and disability,” the education department asserts.
As Education Week observed, the 2020-2021 school civil rights survey was created by the Trump administration, which sought information on sexual assault attempts by school staff and religious harassment and bullying.
The report suggested that, in the 2021-2022 survey, the Biden administration may choose to add questions that relate to the view that black students are disciplined more often that white and Asian students because of systemic racism, and to its increased emphasis on LGBTQ rights.
Citing the unprecedented surge of federal taxpayer funding in public education as a result of the Democrats’ coronavirus spending bill, Goldberg said it is a good time to record conditions in schools regarding equity.
“The significant changes in our educational landscape, along with the substantially increased resources available to schools to meet the needs of your students, educators, and staff, make this year’s data collection all the more important,” she reportedly wrote to superintendents.