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Trump reverses Obama-era race guidelines for admissions

04 July, 2018, 16:14 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • President Donald Trump looks toward Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as he speaks during a workforce  apprenticeship discussion at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster N.J. Friday Aug. 11 2017. Trump received an update on the the president's wor

A formal announcement was expected later Tuesday from the Justice and Education departments, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the new guidance ahead of its release.

"The American people deserve to have their voices heard and a government that is accountable to them. That's wrong, and it's not good government".

The policy, enacted by President Barack Obama's Justice and Education departments in 2011 and 2016, focused on providing legal guidance to colleges that wanted to include race as a factor in the admission process.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld - though with an increasingly narrow view - the practice of considering race as a factor in order to ensure minorities are integrated at elite U.S. educational institutions. The departments wrote a "Dear Colleague" letter to announce the withdrawal of seven documents released during the Obama administration that laid out the legal framework for the affirmative action policies.

The rescinded documents cover polices related to right-to-work laws for refugees and asylum seekers; federal protections against national origin discrimination, and the Bureau of Justice Assistance's Criminal Alien Assistance Program.

In summary, the guidelines give institutions options on how to promote racial diversity without specifically targeting and isolating race as a primary factor in the admissions decision. "The Executive branch can not circumvent Congress or the courts by creating guidance that goes beyond the law", Devin M. O'Malley, a Justice Department spokesman, told the New York Times Tuesday.

Tuesday's reversal does not affect what a school decides to do on its own within the confines of current Supreme Court precedent, but civil rights groups swiftly reacted with disappointment.

"We condemn the Department of Education's politically motivated attack on affirmative action and deliberate attempt to discourage colleges and universities from pursuing racial diversity at our nation's colleges and universities", Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration said that the Obama administration's advocacy for a particular policy position was "inconsistent" with the principles for agency guidance.

"Educators know that all students, and not just our students of color, benefit from diverse and inclusive classrooms", Lily Eskelsen García, the National Education Association president, said in a statement. Supreme Court cases are brewing including a case involving an Asian student and the allegation that Harvard University created policies that made it harder for Asian students to be admitted as compared to Hispanic or black students.

The Justice investigation has also drawn a strong rebuke from numerous organizations representing minority groups, which argue that this is a step toward doing away with affirmative action altogether. Those districts will no longer be able to rely on the Education Department, she said, to help them craft a policy that complies with the Supreme Court's decision.



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