ACLU calls for 'education equity,' still supports 'race conscious admission policies'

A recent ACLU blog post lists several methods that schools at all levels can pursue to combat systemic inequality through 'education equity.'

The group rejects efforts to ban Critical Race Theory in schools and opposes 'transparency laws,' which it claims are 'designed to intimidate educators into compliance.'

In its efforts to tackle alleged racial discrimination in all levels of education, one of the nation’s most influential nonprofits recently issued several reform proposals, including support for “race conscious admission policies to increase access to higher education.”

On Sept. 6, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) praised affirmative action and called on universities to fight “inequitable barriers to higher education” in a blog post on “Why Access to Education is Key to Systemic Equality.” The ACLU also continues to criticize Critical Race Theory (CRT) bans in public schools and demands more funding for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs.

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“This blog is back to school work that focuses on education equity,” ACLU Communications Strategist Ricardo Mimbela told Campus Reform. “We’re advocating for all students to receive equal access to a high quality education, a safe learning environment, and a diverse student body that enriches their educational experience.”

According to the group’s post, education equity is vital in the fight to end systemic discrimination in education, referring to the concept as a “critical foundation for a democratic society.

The ACLU’s post comes several months after the Supreme Court declared race-based affirmative action admissions policies to be unconstitutional.

The ACLU is now calling for universities to achieve education equity through affirmative action replacements, labeling the long-standing practice “an important tool” but one that “is not the only avenue for ensuring that educational opportunities are open to all.”

“In the absence of affirmative action, it is more important than ever that schools work to identify and remove inequitable barriers to higher education,” the ACLU says.

Another way to advance education equity is to stop “attacks” on education, including “demands to exclude critical race theory from classrooms to ever-increasingly devious and dangerous demands to erase entire concepts from American history.” 

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The post also highlights how the ACLU rejects “transparency laws,” which it claims are “designed to intimidate educators into compliance” and are “attacks on individual expression.” As noted by The Washington Post, at least 17 states are considering such transparency bills, which would require public schools to post class materials online, such as handouts, book titles, and articles.

“In general, the ACLU strongly supports transparency from government bodies but no student or teacher should be placed under nonstop surveillance,” Senior Staff Attorney Leah Watson said in a statement provided to Campus Reform. “Examining teachers under a microscope to ‘catch’ them violating laws inevitably chills speech.”

In August 2022, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida over the “Stop W.O.K.E Act,” which prohibits what Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration has called “discriminatory indoctrination” in Florida schools. 

Campus Reform contacted the ACLU for comment. This story will be updated accordingly.