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Economic Bias in Schoolwork Found

September 15, 1999|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Students from low-income households are not getting the same challenging schoolwork as other children, despite a federal law designed to bridge the learning gap between the haves and have-nots, a civil rights panel contended Monday.

The Clinton administration gives too much latitude in adopting standards of learning for all children, resulting in "disturbing echoes of the old racially dual systems of education" that existed before school segregation ended, the Citizens Commission on Civil Rights--a coalition of civil rights groups--concluded in its report on Title I.

Title I, created more than 30 years ago to narrow the gap in academic achievement between low-income students and their peers, was revised in 1994 to make sure states getting federal money adopted the same high standards for all children.

The Clinton administration, "once a prime advocate of standards-based reform, has since had a massive failure of will and nerve" in enforcing the revision, the report concludes.

The Education Department insists it is upholding the Title I mission.

Standards spell out what each state believes all children should know and be able to do in each subject. States can decide which subjects to write standards for, but they must have reading and math standards to comply with the law.

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