Khalilah Harris, deputy director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, will discuss efforts the Initiative is taking to raise awareness around promising practices to end the school-to-prison pipeline, including use of the Department’s civil rights data collection and joint efforts by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice to address school discipline, at an event hosted by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Dignity in Schools. The event will take place on Thursday, June 4, at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. In addition, Harris will address the need for community engagement to help create positive school environments and provide platforms for youth and advocates to tell their stories about how disparities in school discipline impacts them and their future. Harris will join U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy and U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (ranking member, House Committee on Education and the Workforce), as well as U.S. Reps. Danny Davis and Katherine Clark.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Education awarded more than $70 million to 130 grantees in 38 states to help keep students safe and improve their learning environments. The Department made the awards under four new grant programs that were among the common-sense proposals included in President Obama and Vice President Biden’s “Now Is The Time” initiative, a comprehensive plan to make our schools safer, reduce gun violence by keeping guns out of dangerous hands, and increase mental-health services.
In addition, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced a Correctional Education Guidance Package in December 2014 that was aimed at helping states and local agencies strengthen the quality of education services provided to America’s estimated 60,000 young people in confinement every day. The guidance ensures that young people in correctional facilities received an appropriate, high-quality education in compliance with federal laws.