Education Dept. Says It Will Scale Back Civil Rights Investigations

Dr. Hatem Bazian


Efficiency in the face of Civil Rights Violations is consent!

Efficiency is an appealing word for it purports to describe an outcome without providing the specifics or the road map of what is meant by it. For example, corporate America’s use of the term efficiency often translates to reducing a number of employees and increasing existing labor output per work hour. Here, efficiency stands for cost-saving, resulting often from massive worker lay-offs, followed by the company claiming that they have made a successful turn-around because the CEO and the staff have begun to show a bottom line profit. This type of quick turn-around does not address the real economic problems or causes inside the company, but rather produces the perception of a solution.

In the same way that corporate raiders use efficiency to hide and obfuscate the economic problems facing a company, the Federal Department of Education scaling back on Civil Rights investigation in pursuit of efficiency will only conceal the real issue effecting educational institutions. The road to Civil Rights investigations in educational institutions was a long and arduous one and involved frequent Supreme Court decisions:

1) Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896 – “separate but equal” which sanctioned segregation of beaches, cemeteries, hospitals, transportation, restaurants, schools, and sports etc.
2) Sweatt v. Painter – all-black law school established by Texas violated 14th Amendment because facilities unequal
3) McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents – University of Oklahoma graduate student George McLaurin’s constitutional rights violated when he was denied equal access to the classrooms, dining hall, and library
4) Brown v. Board of Education, 1956 – Challenged the “separate but equal” doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson. Attorney Thurgood Marshall argued before the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Earl Warren. It was a Unanimous decision – “In the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.” Brown II ruled for school desegregation “with all deliberate speed.”

The passing of a Civil Rights Act in 1957, provided an instrument to independently investigate Civil Rights violations. It was the first federal civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, which established the United States’ Civil Rights Commission and called for civil rights violations to be investigated, as well as the voting rights of African Americans to be protected by the U.S. Attorney General. The 1964 Civil Rights Act established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) which allowed the Justice Department a wide range of powers to prosecute discrimination based on race, color, sex, or national origin, as well as outlawing segregation in public accommodations and schools.

The resistance to Civil Rights since the passing of the 1964 Act and afterward has taken the form of depriving the investigating agencies of the resources needed to carry forth the needed and often difficult investigations. Certainly, fraudulent claims need to be pursued, but this should not confuse the real issue – the persistent resistance to addressing the problem of racism and discrimination in the first place. If a tree falls in the forest and no one sees or hears it, did it really fall? The same question applies, if under calls for efficiency civil rights violations are not investigated or given the needed resources, then the problem will not be addressed and racism will have a new extended lease on life.

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