House Reinstates Obama-era Program to Reduce Racial Isolation in Public Schools, Grant Re-Opens for MNPS

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper
U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper

WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, Sept. 15 the House passed an amendment introduced by Rep. Jim Cooper to the Strength in Diversity Act, which reinstates an Obama-era grant program that was cut by the Trump administration, to reduce racial and socioeconomic isolation in public schools.

The amendment would give the nearly 30 school districts, including Metro Nashville Public Schools, that previously applied priority consideration under the newly created program.

“Without this critical program, efforts to reduce racial and socioeconomic isolation in public schools have stalled in cities like Nashville, Austin, Minneapolis, and many others,” Rep. Jim Cooper said. “My amendment simply rights a wrong, and helps us take one step forward in the long journey toward ending segregation and racial injustice in America.”

“Restoration of this grant program will give our district another important tool in our fight to reduce student isolation and increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in our schools,” said Dr. Adrienne Battle, Director of Metro Nashville Public Schools. “We’re extremely grateful to Congressman Cooper and his fellow House members for working to give us this opportunity again.”

H.R.2639, the Strength in Diversity Act passed 248-167.

Read Rep. Cooper’s full statement as prepared for delivery on the House floor:

“I thank the gentlewoman from Ohio. I commend you, Chairman Scott, and the Education and Labor Committee members and staff for your leadership on this important issue.

“I would also like to thank my good friend, the gentlewoman from California Congresswoman Lee for her support of the amendment.

“Nearly 30 school districts, including Metro Nashville Public Schools, submitted applications to the “Opening Doors, Expanding Opportunities” grant program under the Obama administration before it was cut by Secretary DeVos. In fact, this was Secretary DeVos’ FIRST action in office. Without this critical program, efforts to reduce racial and socioeconomic isolation in public schools have stalled in cities like Nashville, Austin, Minneapolis, and many others.

“My amendment would give those 30 school districts the opportunity to reapply to this newly-created program and receive priority consideration. It does not guarantee acceptance but rather gives them the first shot at receiving funding they were denied by the Trump administration.

“My amendment simply rights a wrong, and helps us take one step forward in the long journey toward ending segregation and racial injustice in America.

“I thank my friend for yielding me time. I yield back.”

 

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