US Department of Education Takes Action Against Growing Anti-Semitism and Hate in Educational Institutions

This week, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, along with Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten, Under Secretary James Kvaal, and other officials from the U.S. Department of Education (Department), conducted a series of meetings and listening sessions to gain a deeper understanding of the growing concerns surrounding discrimination in schools, specifically antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-Arab sentiment, and related forms of bias. The Department also unveiled a number of initiatives aimed at addressing these issues.

On Friday, November 17, Secretary Cardona traveled to New York City to meet with the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council and Interfaith America leadership to discuss interfaith cooperation in order to ensure the safety and well-being of all students.

On Thursday, November 16, the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) published a list of higher education institutions and K-12 schools that are currently being investigated for potential violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, specifically related to shared ancestry issues.

Also on Thursday, November 16, Deputy Secretary Marten organized a roundtable discussion with eight principals and superintendents from across the country. These educational leaders shared their strategies for combating hate on school campuses. The principals represented both elementary and secondary schools, while the superintendents came from a diverse range of districts, including small and large, urban and rural. All participants emphasized the importance of creating a safe and inclusive learning environment for all students.

On Wednesday, November 15, Secretary Cardona, accompanied by other officials from the Biden-Harris Administration, met with leaders from the Arab, Muslim, and Sikh communities to discuss the issues of Islamophobia, anti-Arab bias, anti-Sikh bigotry, and other forms of hate in schools. Secretary Cardona firmly denounced all these forms of discrimination.

On Tuesday, November 14, Under Secretary James Kvaal conducted a similar listening session with leaders from twelve colleges and universities. The goal was to gather insights into effective strategies that have been implemented on these campuses to counter antisemitism, Islamophobia, and anti-Arab bias since October 7. The participating institutions represented a diverse range, including both public and private schools, two-year and four-year colleges, as well as urban and rural campuses. All the institutions expressed concerns for the physical and emotional well-being of their students, faculty, and staff. Additionally, they shared various best practices that can serve as valuable lessons for other institutions to adopt. The Department plans to distribute these best practices more widely in the coming weeks.

Also on Tuesday, November 14, the Department released a fact sheet introducing new resources and tools to combat antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-Arab bias, and related forms of discrimination. This includes a guidance document reminding PreK-12 schools and higher education institutions of their legal obligations under Title VI, as well as a curated collection of resources designed to assist educators, students, parents, and community members in promoting religious inclusion and ensuring the safety of students from antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-Arab biases, and related discrimination.

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