WASHINGTON – Today, Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) and Congressman Mondaire Jones (NY-17) led House Democrats in introducing the Strength in Diversity Act, a bold proposal to help fulfill the promise of equity in education by supporting schools districts that are developing, implementing, or expanding voluntary school diversity initiatives.
“Last year the House of Representatives made history by passing the first new investment in school integration in three decades,” Chairman Scott said. “Now – with a Democratic Senate and President Biden in the White House – the Strength in Diversity Act has an opportunity to be enacted into law. Addressing America’s legacy of racial discrimination is often uncomfortable and complicated. This bill provides the necessary funding to help school districts that are voluntarily seeking to develop, implement, or expand efforts to integrate their local schools.”
“This year’s Black History Month is about dismantling systemic racism in every form, and that must start with education,” said Congressman Jones. “Sixty-six years after Brown v. Board of Education, it’s time to make good on our promise to integrate our public schools. Segregated schools do a disservice to students of color, whose schools are under-resourced and over-disciplined, and to our society. By passing the Strength in Diversity Act, we can start to break down the inequities in our education system and truly begin the process of desegregation.”
More than 66 years after the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, America’s public schools are more segregated today than at any time during the 1960s. The growing racial isolation in schools has led to a significant gap in resources. Schools serving predominately students of color receive $23 billion less than schools serving predominantly white students.
As a result, Black students who attended desegregated schools throughout their K-12 career were more likely to graduate from high school, attend college, attend a more selective school, and complete college.
School diversity also promotes better life outcomes beyond education. Research shows that attending diverse schools leads to more integrated communities, higher levels of social cohesion, and reduced racial prejudice.
The Strength in Diversity Act:
- Establishes a grant program that provides federal funding to support voluntary local efforts to increase diversity in schools. Grants could fund a range of proposals, including (but not limited to):
- Studying segregation, evaluating current policies, and developing evidence-based plans to address socioeconomic and racial isolation.
- Establishing public school choice zones, revising school boundaries, or expanding equitable access to transportation for students.
- Creating or expanding innovative school programs that can attract students from outside the local area.
- Recruiting, hiring, and training new teachers to support specialized schools.
- Supports the development and maintenance of best practices for grantees and experts in the field of school diversity.
- Grant funding would be available to school districts, independently or in collaboration with neighboring districts, as well as regional educational authorities and educational service agencies.
For a fact sheet on the Strength in Diversity Act, click here.
For a section by section of the Strength in Diversity Act, click here.
For the bill text of the Strength in Diversity Act, click here.
Democratic Press Office, 202-226-0853
January 14, 2021
Following school closures that occurred in spring 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) developed the "COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Learning Framework for K-12 Schools in California, 2020-2021 School Year" (July 17, 2020) to support school communities as they decided when and how to implement in-person instruction for the 2020-2021 school year. Schools throughout the state are currently in various stages of instruction including distance learning, in-person learning, and hybrid instruction based on local conditions.
New evidence and data about COVID-19 transmission and experience nationally and internationally demonstrate that schools, particularly elementary schools, can operate safely for in-person instruction with the correct safety protocols in place. Concurrently with this directive, CDPH issued updated, consolidated guidance for public and private K-12 schools to support school re-openings and safe implementation of in-person instruction for students and staff.
Under the guidance, schools that have already reopened are permitted to continue offering in-person instruction, and additional schools will reopen through the early spring. To be equipped to prevent and mitigate ongoing community COVID-19 transmission, it is necessary for CDPH and local health jurisdictions to have accurate information about which school sites are serving students in-person and to which degree such in-person services are being provided, especially in light of evolving epidemiological conditions.
This information will assist public health authorities maintain awareness of possible locations where case transmission may occur and can rapidly respond to any confirmed positive cases of individuals who have been on-site at schools offering in-person instruction and services. It is also necessary to focus public health resources to support schools, including COVID-19 testing support, contact tracing, and technical assistance related to mitigation strategies and operational plans, to make the most efficient and effective use of those resources. Finally, this information will assist CDPH and local health jurisdictions to accurately assess the impact of school reopening on COVID-19 and update operative public health guidance and directives as necessary.
- Beginning January 25, 2021, every local educational agency (school district, county office of education, and charter school) and private school in California shall notify the California Department of Public Health whether it is serving students in-person. Specifically, the local educational agency or private school shall report the following information:
- In-person instruction is provided full-time, including whether provided for all grades served by the local educational agency or private school or only certain grade spans.
- In-person instruction is provided only part-time (hybrid model), including whether provided for all grades served by the local educational agency or private school or only certain grade spans.
- In-person instruction and services are provided only pursuant to the Guidance Related to Cohorts issued by the California Department of Public Health.
- No in-person instruction and services are provided (distance learning only).
- This reporting shall continue every other Monday (or the Tuesday immediately following, if the Monday is a state holiday) until this directive is modified or rescinded.
- This information shall be reported via a web form that will be made available by the California Department of Public Health.
- The California Department of Public Health will provide this information to local health officers and, once the information is processed, will make this information publicly available on the Safe Schools For All Hub website.
As mental health concerns have grown in San Mateo County during the Pandemic, the San Mateo County Office of Education, in partnership with San Mateo County’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS), began working closely with school districts to build their capacity to provide mental health supports for students. In 2020, the County Office and BHRS received a $6.0 million grant from the State to support this work and help schools address student stress and trauma. Through this grant, SMCOE and BHRS supported 12 San Mateo County school districts in implementing a new social-emotional curriculum and conducting staff resiliency training. The two organizations also expanded mental health care coordination services to all 23 San Mateo County school districts and County Office of Education student programs. This is great and much needed news!
I attended the California Department of Education's Equity Summit on Friday, January 29, 2021, and in the closing Keynote, Dr. Tyrone Howard highlighted mental health as a key component of our equity work, encouraging putting "Maslow before Bloom." This statement also seems especially important and impactful as we navigate this pandemic, now for almost one year, and we know that our students and their adults are struggling in so many ways.
What is the Tinsley Volunteer Transfer Program?
In 1976, a group of parents filed a lawsuit, which contended that elementary students in the south county school districts were denied an equal educational opportunity because of the isolation of racial minorities in the Ravenswood City School District. The lawsuit was settled in 1986, when the school districts entered a Settlement Order designed to reduce racial isolation.
One component of the Settlement Order is the Voluntary Transfer Plan, which allows minority students in the Ravenswood City School District to transfer to one of the following six school districts: Las Lomitas, Menlo Park City, Palo Alto Unified, Portola Valley, San Carlos, and Woodside. Non-minority students in these six districts may transfer into the Ravenswood City School District. Redwood City and Belmont-Redwood Shores were originally part of the order, but reached a high enough minority ratio that they no longer have to enroll students under the settlement.
If you have not yet applied for the Tinsley Volunteer Transfer Program, remember to mail your application by U.S. Mail before the final deadline of February 2, 2021. Applications postmarked or received after the November 16, 2020 deadline are placed on a waitlist and transfers are only offered on a space available basis. Click here for meeting handout or for the Tinsley VTP application.
The application will be available on this website beginning on September 15 of each year until February 1 of the following year. No transfers will be made after May 1.
*I am including this article that looks at some of the impacts of the Tinsley Transfer Program, with one response to the article, as follows: "I've come across this article as I write my personal statement for the law school application process and I've been moved to tears. I am proud to say that I am a former Tinsley Program Student (1995-2004) and I agree - Learning to navigate between 2 such different social contexts has truly been a blessing in disguise. I attribute my Tinsley Program experience to my confidence today and for that I am truly grateful. I hope we can continue to improve our schools so that all of us can have equal access to quality education, not just the lucky few of us who win a lottery." Former Tinsley Student, Woodside School, September 14, 2014.
To see all slides: Click here for meeting handout
27 January 2021
Information shared by Louise Rogers, Chief of the San Mateo County Health System today:
- We have updated our website with a new form for residents who would like to be notified when they are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. We continue to recommend that our residents start with their own health care providers who often have clear pathways to the vaccine and may even have their own supply (Kaiser, Sutter/PAMF, Dignity and AHMC/Seton) but we know that others who are not connected to providers will need other pathways and this form will help us reach those people. We will be able to target outreach to our residents about the pathways to the vaccine that are open to them as the State changes the eligibility criteria and vaccination options are developed. The link to the website page that contains the link to the on-line form is: https://www.smchealth.org/covid-19-vaccination
- This notification system is an interim strategy as the State assembles a statewide COVID-19 notification system called MyTurn, which is scheduled to launch later in February and has been posted now as a pilot site: https://myturn.ca.gov/ We believe the State system will likely be an important resource as the State increases its efforts including setting up a large statewide contractor to perform vaccinations and we have also posted the link on our website. Please note that one must use Chrome or Safari to connect with the State site.
- Two publicly-facing dashboards are now available on our County Health website and today, they show 48,826 San Mateo County residents have been vaccinated:
- The data is updated daily by the State in the statewide California Immunization Registry (CAIR2) that holds data on all COVID-19 vaccinations administered by healthcare entities. We appreciate the tremendous public interest in understanding how we are doing in this critical work to achieve the fastest, safe reach possible for those eligible to be vaccinated. Through the work of healthcare provider partners across the County, we have made great progress in reaching healthcare workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities. The federal long-term care partnership program with Walgreens and CVS have scheduled over 90% of the 527 enrolled long-term care facilities in the County at this point. Through our partnership with Safeway Pharmacy we provided COVID vaccinations to 765 staff and residents of 6 assisted living facilities. Most recently, the three day mass clinic at the SMC Event Center, held Saturday-Tuesday, in partnership with Dignity Sequoia, resulted in vaccinations of 4,788 residents. The supply of vaccine continues to be constrained but healthcare providers are reaching the next eligible population of older adults age 65+ as vaccine supply enables. We see from the dashboard that 15,836 residents 65 and older have been vaccinated so far, which is 12% of 129,975 SMC residents age 65+.
- We are excited that the federal administration has already identified its essential role to support this massive rollout as a top priority, with an Executive Order issued on January 21 titled “Executive Order on Ensuring an Equitable Pandemic Response and Recovery” https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/21/executive-order-ensuring-an-equitable-pandemic-response-and-recovery/. Additionally, the State relayed its interest in taking a greater leadership role, and we welcome this leadership from all levels of government for us to achieve this tremendously important public health goal of every eligible resident being vaccinated.
Also see: https://www.smchealth.org/coronavirus